MIAMI — The Wardogs didn’t have a lot to show for the weekend in the Northeastern A&M High School Basketball Tournament.
Or did they?
“I told them (the players) that it’s great preparation — hopefully we can get into games like that again down the road in the playoffs and draw from those experiences,” Miami coach Rusty Mercer said.
The Wardogs (7-8) ground out a 63-59 overtime victory over the Green Country Defenders, but dropped a 48-37 decision to 5A No.9 and eventual Boys Gold champion Claremore in the semifinals Friday, Jan. 19, then fell to Tulsa McLain 56-38 in the third-place game Saturday, Jan. 20.
In both losses, early 3-point goals put Miami in a bind.
The Zebras connected on four 3-point goals in the opening 2:42 to take the lead for good.
Then McLain fired in four in the first 5-plus minutes to open up a 12-5 advantage en route to its win.
Claremore, ranked 9th in 5A, improved to 11-4 while winning a title in its first-ever tournament appearance.
Tulsa McLain is now 8-5, but the Titans losses have been to 4A No. 16 Webster, 3A No. 1 Star Spencer, 6A No. 19 Sapulpa and 5A No. 5 Tulsa Washington.
McLain 45, Miami 38
A 9-0 run in the second quarter snapped a 14-14 tie and gave the Titans the lead for good.
McLain went into the break a 13-with a 32-18 advantage then a 13-11 edge pushed the Titan lead to 18 heading into the final stanza.
“McLain just jumps up over you,” Mercer said. “You have to help. You have to keep the ball out of the paint. The fact that they have kids out there that can shoot it a little bit makes you pick your poison and makes it makes it extremely difficult to defend.
“I would be hard pressed to think that we are going to face a more athletic team than that for sure.”
Eli Lewis was Miami’s leading scorer with 21 points.
Drew Williams netted seven, Kai Hamilton and Grant Nolte had three each while Conner Womack and Brant Morris each had two.
“We made a lot of mistakes,” Mercer said. “They speed you up you inherently have to speed up and when you do, you really can’t get to the pace you want.
“It’s easy for us on the sideline to say some of those things we are doing are silly, but we’re not under the duress that those guys are under. It’s very understandable.”
Senior Karmon Brice had all 12 of the Titans first quarter points. He finished with a team-high 17.
“You can’t simulate that stuff in practice,” Mercer said. “The fact we saw that today has to be our practice basically and our simulation for hopefully someone down the stretch when it means something in the playoffs.”
Claremore 48, Miami 37
The early 3-point salvo helped the Zebras take a lead they would never surrender.
They turned a 24-3 first quarter lead into a 27-14 halftime advantage.
Claremore held a 10-8 edge in the third period.
The Dogs created the final margin with a 15-7 margin in the fourth.
Hamilton’s nine points topped the scoring for Miami.
Womack, Morris and Eli Chenoweth had six each, Williams four and Lewis and Kaleb Jinks contributed three each.
Freshman guard Caison Hartloff was Claremore’s offensive leader with 13 points.
The Wardogs host Verdigris Tuesday, Jan. 23 then travels to Locust Grove on Friday, Jan. 26.