WICHITA—After the Orioles fell behind by 20 points midway through the third quarter and, soon after, put Collegiate’s boys basketball team in the double bonus already, they looked like they might be dead in the water.

Most teams might check out at that point, especially against a defending state champion.

Not Augusta.

The Orioles started a spirited, passionate comeback on the road against tough elements and climbed their way back to within just six points with well over one minute left in the fourth quarter. Zac Burton completed a three-point play to cut it to 68-62. Collegiate even turned the ball over carelessly on the ensuing inbound pass to feed the Orioles.

But just as quickly as they climbed back into the thick of it, the Orioles came up a little bit short. They couldn’t make Collegiate pay for its mistake, and the Spartans made enough free throws to close out a 75-65 win.

“We had every reason to quit there for a little bit. And that’s what I talked to them about. In moving the program forward, we just don’t give in,” Sims said. “They had it up to 20 and we got it down to six at one point. So we’re a couple things away from good things happening.”

The Orioles played pretty evenly with the Spartans in the first quarter. Jonny Clausing was unstoppable as he got on a roll with eight of Augusta’s first 10 points. But Collegiate held Augusta to seven second-quarter points by forcing seven turnovers.

After the Orioles trailed by 2, Chance Whitehead single-handedly tried to shoot the Orioles back into the game. He hit four 3-pointers in the second half. Blake Altenhofen and Jaren Jackson got into the mix with some 3s in the fourth that got the Augusta crowd cheering.

Though it was too little, too late, Sims said he was proud of how they competed at the end of the game.

“We grew a ton tonight,” Sims said. “And they caused me to grow a little bit tonight, too, as a coach. I’ve been a little tentative when we’ve been in big games, and these guys proved to me that I don’t need to be.”

Clausing finished with a game-high 20 points. Whitehead had 14, Burton had nine, Altenhofen had seven, Kenton Rocheford had five, Clay Wesbrooks and Jackson had four apiece while Jayden Reynolds added two.