Collegiate earned a 4-0 start and a No. 1 ranking in Class 3A largely in part because of its suffocating pressure defense and consistent five-man substitutions.
That didn't phase the Orioles enough. In fact, it was Augusta's boys basketball team that forced 10 first-quarter turnovers to spark a big lead. The Orioles got balanced scoring on the offensive end and a big rebounding night for Brandon Smith and Sean Brandenburg on the defense end to propel Augusta to a 55-38 victory Tuesday night.
"I just kept telling them, and the last couple practices we worked on not wearing ourselves out," coach David Stephenson said. "Just being calm, taking deep breaths, using pass fakes, and I thought we did a great job of that."
From the beginning of the game, the Orioles were effective in breaking Collegiate's full-court press and setting up the offense.
"We practiced with six defenders all week," said Brandenburg, "and just valued every possession."
Brandenburg started the scoring with a 3-pointer. Five different Orioles scored in the opening quarter.
Brandeburg hit a 3-pointer and scored a layup on back-to-back possessions to extend Augusta's lead to 21-12 during the second quarter. He later scored another layup off his own steal.
Defensively, Smith was able to get some physical rebounds. He pulled down nine total boards for Augusta despite getting into some foul trouble. He was a big reason the Orioles had a 10-6 rebounding edge in the third quarter.
"That was our whole focus for the game was defensive rebounding," Smith said.
"He owned it on the boards. He looked like he was six inches above everybody else all night," Stephenson said of Smith.
When Smith got in foul trouble, Brandenburg stepped up his game. He had eight boards.
"Rebounding and toughness, getting on the boards" Brandenburg said. "...We knew that's what he had to do to get the win."
Augusta had 16 turnovers on the night, but those never opened the door for a comeback by Collegiate. Smith said the Orioles took care of the little things to prevent that.
"It's very important, because they can add up. They can go on big runs and get us behind," Smith said.
Augusta finished with 12 steals.
Connor Hurst and Tristan Finch tied for a team-high 13 points. Brandenburg finished with nine. Kyler Steinkamp scored eight points, as did Smith. Chaydon Carter and Dustyn McEachern both scored two points for the Orioles.
Augusta will host Wellington Friday night in Hutter Gymnasium.