Neither the Orioles nor Thunderbirds led by more than four points during Friday night's girls basketball contest.
Alison Kirkham hit four straight free throws to give Circle a 36-32 lead midway through the fourth quarter. The Orioles fought back to take a 39-37 lead after Bre Burkett hit a baseline jumper.
The T-birds and Orioles exchanged leads three more times. Kirkham again made four straight free throws to give Circle a three-point lead with less than 10 seconds.
Augusta got one final chance, but the T-birds intercepted a pass and ran out the clock to hang on for a 45-42 victory.
"Quite simply, it was our turnovers," Augusta coach Tracy Anderson said was the difference of the game. "Whether they were in their man or their zone...They're really active in that zone and they jump the passing lanes."
With the Orioles trailing by one point on the previous possession, Circle's defense didn't give anything to the Orioles. After the final two free throws, Augusta tried to get a corner 3-pointer to tie the game, but couldn't complete the play.
"It was a fade screen because we needed a 3-pointer," Anderson said. "They did a good job and they switched it, and Katy was open, but we just didn't see her."
Circle struggled from the line most of the game, but made enough of them down the stretch. The T-birds were 16-of-30 from the line. Augusta, which had two players foul out and a couple others in foul trouble, was 11-for-22 from the line.
Anderson said she was proud of the Orioles' effort regardless. Augusta played one of its better games in recent weeks. The Orioles just gave up too many layups off steals going the other way. Circle's Talia Highbarger had a few steals and led the T-birds with 13 points. Kirkham scored 10 points, most of which came in the second half.
Leah Metzger scored seven points, Caylie Kifer had six, Katie Frankenbery added three, and Allyssa Kirkham, Reagan Wilson and Kate Wilson all scored two points apiece for Circle.
Casady Marlnee scored 13 points to lead Augusta. Kylie Wesbrooks and Carly Sears both had nine points. Maddy Leedom scored three. Burkett, Nordman and Brooke Eberhardt all scored two points apiece. Morgan Kirk and Bailey Reichardt each had a point for the Orioles.