Given the chance, Augusta's boys basketball team would gladly trade places with Rose Hill's, since the Rockets are going to a Class 4A sub-state final after beating Augusta 47-39 on Friday.
But it was Rose Hill coach Rocky Stone expressing envy after Friday's game, which put the Rockets into tonight's final against Circle.
"I wish we could shoot free throws like Augusta," Stone said.
While Rose Hill's 20 missed free throws — 13 in the fourth quarter — made the win more of a struggle than it probably should have been, it's futile for the Rockets to think in those terms at a point in the season where only winning matters.
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Rose Hill got that win — its first over the Orioles in three tries this season — by limiting Augusta to nine combined points in the second and third quarters and by shooting well from the perimeter when post offense was non-existent during the majority of the game.
"We've been focused on this game since the minute we lost to them," said Newton, who scored a game-high 21 points. "We wanted to come out and play hard and, not trying to be mean, send them home."
The game looked to be evolving into a shootout when the last 21 points of the first quarter were scored from beyond the three-point line.
It became a defensive struggle, though, with neither team cracking double digits in the middle two quarters. Rose Hill had a 17-9 advantage during the second and third, staying afloat with defense and perimeter shooting while Augusta controlled the backboards (the Orioles had a 40-32 rebounding edge despite 17 more missed shots than Rose Hill) and attempted to control the tempo.
"We played a real good zone," Newton said. "We had to make sure we kept them inside and also stayed out for the threes."
Rose Hill's zone was most effective against Augusta's post players, which Stone said were the difference in the two Augusta wins. While the Rockets couldn't keep Travis Erwin and Shane Smith off the boards — the duo combined for 17 rebounds — the Orioles' big men netted 10 points and had one basket after the first quarter.
"They both destroyed us inside before, then they would kick it out (and make three-pointers)," Stone said. "The difference was to plug up the middle better than the last time. We didn't do a good job with inside defense."
Rose Hill also discovered its own post game. The Rockets had one two-point basket during the first 22 minutes and their five for the game was still a modest total. But they proved to be superior physically, drawing 16 Augusta fouls in the second half and getting necessary points from the free throw line.
"We've got good three-point shooters," Stone said. "But at some point you've got to score inside. They played tough defense — they're hard to score against because they'll double- and triple-(team) you inside."
Rose Hill 12 8 9 18 — 47 Augusta 13 5 4 17 — 39
ROSE HILL: Braddy 2, Shirley 7, Khalidi 3, Rapp 7, Newton 21, Richards 2, Paddock 5. Totals 13 (8) 13-33 47.
AUGUSTA: Patterson 3, Carmen 13, Furr 7, Richmond 6, Smith 2, Erwin 8. Totals 12 (5) 10-14 39.
Circle 53, Wichita Trinity 32 — Circle scored the first 13 points and 21 of the first 23 to end the season of Trinity, the sub-state's top seed. Kanyon Kinder ignited the Thunderbirds by making two three-pointers in the first quarter. He finished with a team-high 12 points, one of four Circle players to score at least eight.
Trinity didn't trail by fewer than 20 points for the final 17 minutes. Jason Netherton led the Knights with 12 points.
Circle 17 15 11 10 — 52 Wichita Trinity 2 8 7 15 — 32
CIRCLE: Kirkpatrick 4, Harstine 2, Warren 2, Shepherd 8, Tunnell 11, Kinder 12, Gardinier 8, Phillips 6. Totals 19 (3) 12-19 53.
WICHITA TRINITY: Billings 3, Dohm 2, Kempin 2, Netherton 12, Ziesch 2, Kessinger 4, Burns 7. Totals 12 (4) 4-6 32.