When the Orioles needed to shoot it outside, Dustyn McEachern stepped up and swished a couple of 3-pointers.
When they wanted to get inside, the Orioles' guards got great penetration to break down Circle's defense for easy layups and nice passes down low.
It seemed no matter what Circle's boys basketball team threw at Augusta, the Orioles' offense could not be stopped. Augusta hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter, Brandon Smith made back-to-back layups on passes from Sean Brandenburg, and the Orioles built a 22-12 lead and never looked back as they rolled to an 82-65 win Friday night in Towanda.
"We just got off to a good start shooting," coach David Stephenson said. "We feed off that emotion when everyone is hitting shots. And our defensive was pretty dang good rebounding well. And even when we didn't have a good shot, it seemed like we had the offensive board. So we just had a really good flow offensively to start."
Augusta finished with 21 assists. McEachern led the Orioles with 19 points off the bench and had four of those assists. Though he doesn't start, he has proven to be invaluable as filling his role, which includes giving his teammates a nice spark.
"I love it, it's awesome," McEachern said. "When the game's already going, you get your crowd into it, especially when you're not at home."
"He's a great spark off the bench, especially with his ability to shoot the ball," Stephenson said of McEachern. "And he was great with free throws there at the end to make sure it didn't get close."
A play after making his second 3-pointer of the opening quarter, he connected with Kyler Steinkamp on a lob pass for a backdoor layup and a 16-8 lead.
"It feels great because anybody can hit any shot, especially when the ball is moving really well," McEachern said. "...I just like putting them in good positions, and they like putting me in good position."
Driver converted a three-point play to cut Circle's deficit to 24-17 before the Orioles went on a 9-2 spurt. Chaydon Carter hit a 3-pointer and Connor Hurst scored off a steal in transition during the stretch. Hurst hit a 3-pointer with just a couple seconds left before the halftime buzzer to give Augusta a 42-27 lead.
Steinkamp started the third quarter with a 3-pointer, but Circle picked up its defensive intensity. The T-birds forced six second-half turnovers after Augusta had just one in the entire first half.
Late in the third, Steinkamp scored off a steal to put Augusta ahead 60-40. He finished with 11 points.
Smith finished with 17 points, most of which came inside as the Orioles fed him the ball.
Page 2 of 2 - "We were just driving the ball and going up strong, finishing, giving pump fakes," Smith said. "Makes it a lot easier to score a lot of points."
Defensively, Smith said stopping penetration and getting hands in faces were keys to slowing down the Thunderbirds' offense, which had its way throughout the first half of the teams' last meeting in Augusta.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game throughout," Smith said.
Circle's Dylan Driver was still able to get his. He finished with 23 points, but the Orioles contest all of his shots and kept him from getting easy baskets.
Garrett Cannon scored 11 points for the T-birds. Kaden Fowler scored 10, Braden Kirkpatrick added eight, Jake Smith scored six, Cal Hartley had three and Brendon Horyna and Justin Wright both added two points apiece.
Brandenburg and Hurst both scored 12 points apiece for the Orioles. Carter finished with nine points. Tristan Finch scored two points.
The Orioles improve their record to 12-4 on the season. Augusta is hoping this kind of statement game against a Circle team that entered with a solid record (The T-birds entered the game 9-6) can set the tone for the final two weeks of the season before sub-state.
"We've got stuff to play for," Stephenson said. "If we knock off Andale, we could be co-league champs if we sweep through. We've talked about the second part of league being a five-game season. Right now we're 1-0 trying to go to 2-0. And we'll get better for sub-state."