It wasn't pretty, but that's the way Augusta's girls basketball team wants it.
The Orioles were down 12 to El Dorado at halftime of Tuesday night's home game. The Orioles decided to clamp down on defense and play their style of ball, and it turned the game around. Augusta outscored El Dorado 17-4 in the third quarter on way to a 53-45 victory.
After starting the season 0-8, the win is the second in a row for the Orioles, who believe they are turning a corner.
"It's definitely giving us more momentum. We're starting to come together more as a team," Casady Marlnee said. "We're having people step up, take their spots. People are figuring out their roles."
Like in Friday's win against Rose Hill, Marlnee stepped into her role with more purpose and assertiveness. Marlnee led the Orioles with 18 points on five field goals and 8-of-16 free throw shooting.
Marlnee got the Orioles' offense started with couple of baskets and an assist to Kalie Robinson off a steal. The lead changed four times in the quarter. But El Dorado dominated the second to take a 30-18 lead at halftime. Augusta had 14 first-half turnovers and no second-chance points.
That all changed in the third quarter, when the Orioles took control.
"I think we were much better defensively," coach Tracy Anderson said abot their play in the third quarter. "The first half, we gave up easy shots, gave up layups...We made some adjustments at the half with our post defense, and I thought that really made the difference.
"If we did miss a shot, we were at least in rebounding position," she added.
Augusta did a better job of guarding Andrea Valadez, El Dorado's top player who had her way in the first half. Marlnee and Robinson both guarded her, and the team collapsed better when she went to the rim. It was a fun challenge for Marlnee, who has played on the softball field with Valadez.
"It was a little competition. It's good though," Marlnee said. "I was a little mad when she popped a three on me. She's got some range."
Marlnee got the last laugh. She and her teammates were able to get to the free throw line and stay just enough ahead of the Wildcats to hang on for the win.
"[Anderson] said I just need to get to the rim. If I'm not going to get to the rim, I'm pretty much useless as a guard," Marlnee laughed.
The rest of the offense started clicking, too. Robinson found Marlnee on a screen-and-roll for a three-point play in the third quarter to pull Augusta within four at 32-28. Abby Tipton then scored on a putback. Morgan Kirk later hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds to give Augusta its first lead since the first quarter.
Page 2 of 2 - Part of the Orioles' surge was propelled by the team's rebounding. Augusta clobbered El Dorado for a 23-13 lead, a lot of which came on the offensive end. Augusta scored 13 second-chance points. El Dorado had an 18-7 advantage in free throw attempts in the first half. Augusta had a similar edge in the second half.
Robinson hit a 3-pointer and finished with nine points. Brooke Eberhardt worked hard on the glass and finished with seven points, as did Taylor Childers. Breanna Burkett, Madie Becker and Kirk all scored three. Abby Tipton had two. Maddy Leedom added one.