Butler County Times Gazette
  • Augusta boys pull away from Wellington for big win

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  • Kyler Steinkamp said it was one of those things that gets Augusta's boys basketball team going.
    Connor Hurst hit a 3-pointer on a pass in transition from Tristan Finch to start the third quarter. Two plays later, Dustyn McEachern buried a 3-pointer from the wing on an inside-out pass from Sean Brandenburg.
    Before anyone knew it, the Orioles turned a mere four-point halftime lead into a 16-point third quarter lead.
    "You see one shot go in, and you start to feel it as a team," Steinkamp said.
    "We knew we had to come out strong because we knew they were going to come out fired up," Hurst said.
    Augusta stayed patient against Wellington's zone all night during Friday's game, and the shots eventually fell enough for the Orioles to run away with a 64-49 victory. Augusta improves to 5-2 on the season and 4-0 at home.
    "It's the little things like going in and getting those big defensive rebounds, get that first outlet pass," Steinkamp said. "That's probably where it started. We get those first couple of rebounds, run the floor and get easy baskets. Then they're on their heels."
    Steinkamp, who earned a medal at the state track meet in the high jump event last year, grabbed several rebounds high off the rim and was able to turn defense into offense quickly.
    "He does a lot of little things. Tonight it looked like he was a foot above everybody rebounding," coach David Stephenson said of Steinkamp.
    Wellington's defense kept Augusta at bay for stretches of the first half. Brandon Smith converted a three-point play and Connor Hurst swished a 3-pointer for one 6-0 spurt. Hurst scored a layup off his own steal, then Smith and Brandenburg both scored inside for another 6-0 spurt to close the first quarter.
    But Augusta couldn't shake Wellington early. The Crusaders forced a few Oriole turnovers in the second quarter and got some second-chance looks to slow down Augusta's transition game. The Orioles were settling for jumpers too much against the Crusaders' effective zone defense.
    "Early on, I though we throwing up too many threes and stuff like that. I though eventually we got a lot of inside looks, which is good, and that always kind of pulls the zone in a little bit," Stephenson said.
    After the first minute of the game, neither team led by more than four through the first half. But Augusta quickly built up a double-digit lead in the third quarter.
    "We hits shots," Stephenson said. "That's what I told the guys. When we go on runs, we go on big runs. But I don't think we relied on that run tonight. We did a lot of other things well in the game, then that happened."
    Page 2 of 2 - The Orioles exploited the baseline quite a bit, and Finch led a brilliant passing attack that created easy looks in the paint. He finished with six assists and Steinkamp had three of the team's 15 total assists. A lot of them came in transition after defensive rebounds.
    "Like coach always says, good defense leads to good offense, especially with our speed, getting a lot of fast breaks and a lot of opportunities to score easy layups," Hurst said.
    Hurst, who had one pickpocket steal that led to a layup, was always one of the first Orioles running the open floor. When they weren't scoring in transition, he was more than confident to lead Augusta's half-court sets. He was making tough mid-range jump shots or breaking down Wellington's defense off the dribble.
    "I love having the ball in my hands, even if there's pressure on me. That doesn't phase me," Hurst said. "Being the point guard, you gotta know the clock, know when to take a good shot, not just chuck something up there," Hurst said.
    Hurst finished with three 3-pointers and a team-high 21 points. What Stephenson liked the most was how he played within the system.
    "He didn't take a lot of forced shots. Things were coming for him, he made some great moves and took what was there," Stephenson said. "...Connor's obviously got some great potential to score."
    Smith did a lot of dirty work inside and more often than not was the recipient of a lot of those inside passes as he used his athleticism and put himself in good position all night. He finished with 13 points.
    Steinkamp finished with nine points. McEachern hit three 3-pointers for his nine points. Brandenburg scored eight points. Chaydon Carter hit a 3-pointer and finished with four.
    Augusta will travel to play Clearwater Tuesday, Jan. 14.

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