WINFIELD—It was a play that Augusta’s boys basketball team saves for certain situations when the clock is a big factor.
The Orioles had the Winfield Vikings on their heels after cutting a five-point deficit with less than 1 minute left to a 55-54 game Friday night. Connor Hurst just buried a 3-pointer and the Orioles forced the fifth Viking turnover of the fourth quarter for a chance to win the game.
But like most of the night, the Orioles’ offense wasn’t in sync on the play called during a timeout with 15 seconds left, and a desperation 3-pointer was short as Winfield escaped its home floor with a one-point victory.
“It’s just execution,” coach David Stephenson said. “I told the kids in the locker room, if we could ever execute all the time, we would put up a lot of points.”
The Vikings went on an 11-2 run to break a 33-33 tie at the end of the third quarter. The Orioles gave up two straight backdoor passes for easy layups and transitions point. Winfield’s Jacob Dennett scored six straight points and Logan Mays made a 3-pointer during the stretch.
“Our helpside was bad. The backdoor stuff is all on our helpside, and it wasn’t good,” Stephenson said of the Orioles’ defense. “We are not a complete team on defense.”
Though the defense put the Orioles in the bad situation in the first place, it also provided them with several chances to cut into the lead by creating steals and transition opportunities. But when that was working, the Orioles’ offense bogged down just enough times to make a difference. The Orioles were called for a couple of illegal screens, and when they finally did execute and get good shots, they couldn’t convert consistently enough.
From the outset, the offense was able to move the ball. Sean Brandenburg and Brandon Smith scored on passes from Tristan Finch during the first quarter. Later, Chaydon Carter buried an open 3-pointer off a pass to give Augusta an 11-6 lead.
Will Adler hit a 3-pointer to give Winfield its first lead at 13-12 to start the second quarter. He later scored a deuce and another 3-pointer for a 22-16 lead.
After a free throw made it 23-16, Connor Hurst finally broke free after making a steal and was on his way for a layup when Mays collided with Hurst and got called for an intentional foul. Hurst made the ensuing free throws, then made an assist to Steinkamp, who swished in a 3-pointer on the next possession as the Orioles found some emotional spark. Brandenburg scored on a putback and layup to close the quarter as the teams were tied 25-25 at halftime.
Winfield scored off a steal, a backdoor pass and a transition 3-pointer to gain the early third-quarter lead and held it when the Orioles’ rally came up short in the final seconds.
Steinkamp, who played well on both ends for Augusta, finished with a team-high 17 points. He drained three 3-pointers in the process. Hurst, who faced Winfield’s toughest defender all night, still managed 14 points with two 3-pointers. Brandon Smith had some key rebounds and scored seven points. Brandenburg scored eight points. Finch had five points and a handful of assists.
Augusta will try to get back on track Tuesday at home against a tough Collegiate team.