Circle's girls basketball team was without three of its starters for Tuesday night's road game against Augusta.

The Thunderbirds still were able to grit out a 38-35 victory with just enough free throws and good defense in the fourth quarter.

Katy Nordman hit a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer to give the Orioles a 30-27 lead. But Leah Metzger scored a putback for the Thunderbirds, who made just 5 of 15 attempts at the line in the quarter. One of those, however, was by Caylie Kifer that extended Circle's lead to 38-35 in the final seconds, forcing Augusta to attempt a 3-pointer. After a timeout, the Orioles swung the ball around the perimeter, but didn't get a clean look on a missed shot.

The Thunderbirds' defense carried them in the first half. Augusta 14 first-half turnovers, and the T-birds scored 11 points directly off steals in the half.

Bre Burkett breathed some life into the Orioles' offense with some big jump shots. She scored nine of her 11 points in the second quarter, including a pair of free throws to give Augusta a 20-19 lead with 30 seconds left. But Kifer drained a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer for a 22-20 T-bird lead.

Circle had seven second-chance points in the second half after having none in the first half.

Augusta will play its final game before Christmas break Friday at Andale.