They dubbed him "Winter Freeze."
That's the nickname the Orioles coined for senior guard Chase Winter, who had ice-cold blood in his veins. Rose Hill's fans were frantic and causing a raucous as Winter stepped up to the free throw line. The game tied with 2.5 seconds left, Winter calmly swished two free throws to lift Augusta's boys basketball team to a 50-48 win at Rose Hill Friday night after the Rockets' desperation shot was off.
"I felt the pressure, but just shot them like in practice," Winter said. "It worked out."
"Intense. There's nothing else to it," junior guard Kyler Steinkamp said to describe the game. "That's what you live for. Those types of games are what you play for."
Winter was at the line because Rose Hill rallied from a big deficit to tie the game in the closing seconds. The Orioles were trying to get an inbound pass after a timeout, but a Rose Hill defender ran right over Winter as he tried setting a screen.
It was kind of a fitting way for Winter to end the game, because that's how he started it. Winter was diving all over the court trying to create pressure on Rose Hill's guards right from the tipoff and force turnovers.
"I came out and went after it, went as hard as I could because we need a good start," Winter said. "Because usually we come out kind of lackadaisical."
Not this time. Winter scored 12 of his team-high 14 points in the first quarter and had several of Augusta's five steals in the quarter and eight in the half.
"He's been clutch all year, and not just clutch by making shots. He's been clutch on D', he's been our best defender. He gets rebounds that a 5-foot-8 player shouldn't get," coach David Stephenson said of Winter. "He's been clutch all year.
The Orioles rolled to a 20-5 lead and later led 30-16 at halftime as Kolton Schenker got going in the second quarter with six of his 10 points.
Steinkamp played aggressively and caused problem for Rose Hill's defense as he got to the rim and finished several tough shots.
"I was trying to at least be more physical and just carry my weight around a little more," Steinkamp said. "Finishing those layups inside is something I've been iffy at, but it's getting there."
Steinkamp finished with 13 points on a balanced offensive attack that included drives and a 3-pointer.
Rose Hill has done this before, though. The Rockets nearly beat previously undefeated El Dorado, then Winfield, a ranked team at one point, with big rallies. They were at it again with Augusta as they dominated the glass (22-8 edge in the second half) and scored seven second-chance points to slowly climb back into the game. Brett Waddell scored a game-high 19 points for Rose Hill.
Page 2 of 2 - The Orioles held off the Rockets until the closing minutes when they made crucial shots and Augusta missed a couple free throws.
That is, until Winter made the most important free throws of them all.
"That's the best teammate you can have, someone who can step up there and hits those big shots and think nothing of it," Steinkamp said. "He's got ice in his veins."