Augusta's home game with Buhler Thursday night was a good example of what happens when teams go two days without practice.
Neither the Orioles or Crusaders could hit much of anything from the floor as both teams had cold shooting.
So coach David Stephenson had the Orioles do what they needed to generate points: get easy shots. The Orioles attacked the Crusaders' 3-2 zone defense with quick, accurate pass and backdoor cuts that led to easy layups. The Orioles rode that and hustle plays on the boards to a 48-43 victory.
"It was ugly, and we haven't been able to get many shots up recently. Some people are in a little bit of a drought, but that's all right. It's all right to win ugly occasionally," Stephenson said.
The Orioles led by a mere score of 8-4 after the first quarter. Dustyn McEachern made a nice steal and, while in transition, faked a behind-the-back pass and went up for a layup instead. He was able to draw a foul and complete the three-point play.
Augusta worked its offense as the game progressed. Tristan Finch made nice passes to Connor Hurst and Brandon Smith for two layups to beat Buhler's zone. Finch later made a steal and scored on a coast-to-coast layup to put Augusta ahead 16-9.
"We finally started executing pretty well, and we got some huge rebounds," Stephenson said.
Finch and Smith also drew charges in the quarter to foil a couple of Buhler's plays.
Midway through the third quarter, Smith scored on a backdoor layup from a Sean Brandenburg pass for a 29-22 Oriole lead. Chaydon Carter then hit a 3-pointer for a 32-22 lead as the Orioles seemed like they'd pull away for good.
But back came Buhler. The Crusaders scored second-chance points on two straight possession, then got a pickpocket steal on way to cutting the deficit to 34-30 near the end of the third quarter.
Brandenburg scored on a putback to start the fourth quarter, and Hurst later found Finch for a backdoor layup as Augusta pushed the lead to 40-32. Finch scored another backdoor layup as the Orioles again seemed to be pulling away for good at 46-35.
Buhler again clawed back into it. The Crusaders converted a three-point play after stealing an inbound pass and made more free throws to pull within six at 46-40. The Orioles, though, sealed the win by making free throws of their own.
The Orioles, now 10-4 on the season, host Winfield, a team they lost to on the road. It'll be a tough challenge for the Orioles on back-to-back days, something that affected them last week when they played El Dorado after the Baldwin tournament in Kansas City.
Page 2 of 2 - "It took a lot out of us, and it showed Tuesday," Stephenson said of the Baldwin tournament. "But the kids are going to be ready [Friday]...It's one of the more athletic teams we play, so it'll be fun to watch."