Coach David Stephenson figured Brandon Smith could be effective against Rose Hill’s zone defense during Friday night’s basketball game.
“I challenged him to offensive rebound every possession, see how many he could get...see how many easy points he could get,” Stephenson said.
He was right. Smith crushed the boards and scored 20 points to lead the Orioles, most of which came off second-chance opportunities or inside the post, as Augusta won its fourth straight game of the season by beating Rose Hill 70-50. Augusta improves to 7-2 on the season.
Smith finished with eight field goals and made all four of his free throws.
The Orioles’ guard play by Connor Hurst and Tristan Finch gave Rose Hill problems all night. The two of them combined for several pickpocket steals and assists as they pushed the ball up the floor in a hurry.
“We definitely wanted to beat their zone down the floor. Less you have to play against it, the more it benefits us,” Stephenson said.
Hurst finished at the rim well and scored 16 points. Finch added eight points. Dustyn McEachern came off the bench to drain three 3-pointers on way to 11 points as Augusta’s offensive versatility continues to expand.
“It makes us more dangerous. It makes our scouting tougher for opposing coaches,” Stephenson said.
Kyler Steinkamp may have only scored two points, but he often was a catalyst for the Orioles’ transition game with his big defensive rebounding. He also created some turnovers that led to more transition baskets.
Sean Brandenburg had some big rebounds and a blocked shot to go along with his nine points, which included a 3-pointer to cap a 12-4 run that gave the Orioles a 45-32 lead.
Chaydon Carter scored three points and Cortlan Jackson added a point for the Orioles.
Rose Hill was led by Ben Priebe, who got loose inside for 15 points. Gabe Nickel and Alek Santo both scored 12 points for the Rockets. Brandon Ma had six points off the bench. Logan Welch had five.
Augusta now will prepare for the Baldwin Invitational tournament next week. Augusta is seeded No. 3 and will play KC-Christian at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21. Top-seeded Baldwin plays Anderson County. No. 2 Wellsville plays No. 7 Bishop Ward. No. 4 Perry-LeCompton plays No. 5 Bonner Springs.