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T-Bird Girls Pull Away From Augusta

Ethan Denton

AUGUSTA – The Circle girls basketball team has had to play their last two games with three of their top eight players in head coach Brian Henry’s rotation out due to quarantine. For many teams, that would be problematic. But the Lady T-Birds have picked up two victories, Tuesday over Buhler (45-28) and on Friday, using a big run to start the fourth quarter to leave no doubt in a 54-34 win over the Augusta Orioles.

Point guard Kimalee Cook heated up in the second half and led all scorers with 21 points. Along with that, Cook was helped by her teammates, including several reserves off the bench.

“All week long and all season long we talked about the next girl up mentality,” Henry said. “When someone goes down, whether it be foul trouble, injury, or this year with quarantine, how can you step in make the team better? They were able to get into the flow a little bit on Tuesday, they kind of got used to that role.”

Both teams were strong defensively to start. It was 2-2 through five minutes. Then the T-Birds started to get turnovers that led to transition opportunities. They finished the opening quarter on an 8-1 run to lead 10-3.

Augusta would respond, thanks to strong play in the post from Sydney Scott. She scored eight of her ten points in the second period, as the Orioles closed within one at 15-14.

Circle stayed composed and scored the final six points of the half to go into the break with a 21-14 lead.

The Orioles found a hot outside shooter in Ella Puckett, who drained a trio of three-pointers in the third quarter, but the T-Birds countered with a one-two punch of Cook and Maci Claycamp in the post. The visitors took a 38-27 lead to the final quarter.

Up to that point, Augusta had stayed within reach. But the floodgates opened immediately to begin the fourth as Circle converted a pair of Oriole turnovers into layups. Cook would then splash home a pair of threes and get a layup in transition to cap a 14-0 run that put the T-Birds up by 25.

“We really work on our transition a lot,” Henry said. “It’s keyed upon defensive stops and rebounds. In that first half, we didn’t necessarily get the rebounds or the steals that we needed to really kick-start our transition. Once we were able to start getting some of that action, we were really able to roll with that.

Claycamp also scored in double figures for the T-Birds, finishing with ten points. The Circle bench stepped up and scored 13 points. Henry rested his starters the rest of the way and the T-Birds improved to 3-1 and the Orioles fell to 0-4.

Augusta is now off for the extended break mandated by the KSHSAA. They will next take the court on January 8 against Buhler. Circle meanwhile, will be making up a previously postponed game with Parsons at home on Monday and they picked up a game at Ark City on Tuesday before they are finished for the break.

CIRCLE 10;11;17;16-54

AUGUSTA 3;11;13;7-34

Circle: Cook 21, Claycamp 10, White 7, Gilmartin 6, Coble 4, Shaults 2, Chase 2, Edgerle 2. Augusta: Puckett 14, Scott 10, Anderson 6, Timberlake 3, Barnett 1.