The Augusta boys basketball team is headed to the 4A state tournament after knocking off Abilene on the road by a score of 68-45. Both head coaches, Jake Sims and Terry Taylor, share a connection that goes back to the early 2000’s. In 2003, the last time the Orioles made it to the state tournament, Augusta head coach Jake Sims was a junior at Augusta High School. Terry Taylor, Abilene’s head coach, was Sims’ head coach at Augusta.

The Orioles ended a 16-year state tournament drought with a solid performance against a tough opponent.

“It’s nice to finally get over that hump and get to state, which was our ultimate goal,” said Augusta senior Zac Burton.

The Orioles came ready to play, and scored the first nine points of the game. The Orioles’ first six baskets were scored by six different players. After a dominant start by the Orioles, the Cowboys clawed their way back to make it 15-11 at the end of the first quarter.

Both sides traded baskets in the second quarter and the Cowboys continued to cut into the Oriole’s lead. At the end of the half, Augusta hung on to a 25-22 lead.

In the third quarter, Augusta was able to put together two different 6-0 runs. The second run came late in the quarter as Zac Burton and Zach Davidson scored back-to-back baskets. On the next Abilene possession, Davidson came away with a steal and found Blake Altenhofen for a layup in transition to give the Orioles a double-digit lead.

The Orioles outscored the Cowboys 28-11 in the final quarter and were able to keep the game out of reach for the Cowboys in the final minutes thanks to 14 made free throws.

“All credit goes to those guys,” said Augusta head coach Jake Sims.

“They work their tails off and they do exactly what I ask of them. We talk about it all the time— just trying to do the right thing, and at the end of the day you get rewarded for it. I’m blessed with good players. It’s easy to call something and they can go execute that. Those guys did a heck of a job and I was lucky I got to watch that tonight.”

Augusta dominated the glass and limited second-chance points, which is something the Orioles knew would be play a huge role in deciding the outcome.

“We did a good job of shutting down some of their better players,” added Burton.

“We also did a good job of getting rebounds, getting out in transition, and wearing them out.”

Augusta will face Andale in the first round of the 4A state tournament in Salina on Wednesday. Of the seven other teams that qualified for the state tournament, the Indians are the only team that the Orioles have already played this season. Back in December, Augusta suffered a five-point loss to Andale at home by a score of 54-49. Two and a half months later, the Orioles will get the chance for revenge.

Trinity (20-1), Andale (20-2), and Chapman (18-4) are the three other teams to make it through on the west side of the bracket.

On the east side, Kansas City-Piper (18-4), Anderson County (17-5), Parsons (17-5), and Chanute (12-9) advanced to the state tournament. The biggest surprise of the tournament was Chanute, who upset Bishop Miege in the sub-state championship game. Bishop Miege was the No.1-ranked team in 4A and is the three-time defending 4A-I state champion.