SALINA - It wasn't the start the Augusta Orioles were looking for, but there was nothing wrong with the finish.
The Orioles used a big run to build a lead in the third quarter and then another to finish off the turnover-prone Ottawa Cyclones, 53-41, Thursday in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament.
The victory boosted the Orioles as they end the season 19-4, winners of their final seven games.
"It's going to be fun," said Augusta senior guard Jaren Jackson had the Orioles played their opponent Rose Hill.
The Orioles scored just one basket and three points in the first quarter. What saved them was their defense allowed Ottawa just nine points in the first quarter and 18 in the first half. It was a tie game at intermission.
"Honestly, that's probably the worst start we've had all season," Sims said. "To be tied at halftime, as bad as we played in terms of missing layups and missing free throws ... I was really proud of the guys for getting it tied at halftime."
Too many turnovers - 25 in all - made Ottawa's stay at the state tournament a short one.
The Cyclones (16-7) made one more field goal than their opponent, but couldn't overcome their own mistakes and Augusta's 16 free throws - on 29 attempts.
"No question, turnovers and bad shots are what cost us," Ottawa coach Cliff McCullough said.
The Cyclone got off to a good start and led 9-3 after the first quarter. They still led 24-20 early in the third quarter, but a 17-2 run by Augusta gave the Orioles a 37-26 advantage at the 1:21 mark of the quarter.
Ottawa got back within three (37-34) with 6:27 left, but another flurry of turnovers helped fuel a 13-0 run by Augusta that put the game away. Jackson (five points), Ely Wilcox (four) and Brendan Parker (four) scored all 13 points in the decisive three-minute stretch.
"I thought we had control, and we lost it. We played good and then we let them get on a run right before halftime and they got all the momentum," McCullough said. "We battled, but you can't come out here and turn the ball over like we did and expect to win a basketball game. It all came down to turnovers."
Augusta's 1-3-1 defense threw a wrench into Ottawa's offensive plans.
"Twenty-five turnovers, wow, that's a lot. I didn't realize they had that many," said Jackson, who was one of four Augusta players in double figures with 11 points. "I think our defense is pretty good. I think it is under-valued sometimes."
"That's the most zone we've played all year long," Sims said. "I don't think they were necessarily prepared for it. They looked a little passive against it and I thought it worked to our favor."
In addition to Jackson's 11 points, Ryan Andrews led the Orioles with 13 points. Parker and Wilcox added 11 each. Ottawa got 12 points each from Kobe Johnson and Noah McCullough.