MIAMI — Miami magic.
Staging one of their best comebacks in recent memory, the Miami boys rallied from 19 down at the half to beat Verdigris 68-59 in overtime Tuesday, Jan. 23.
“I had a hard time figuring out what to say to my guys after the game,” Miami coach Rusty Mercer said. “We’ve had a lot of comeback wins — fortunately I’ve had more of those than I have lost like that.
“I don’t know, with the circumstances the way they were, if there’s been a more unexplainable one or a better one.
“It was just unbelievable.”
Miami trailed 36-17 at intermission and 42-29 heading into the final stanza.
“They overwhelmed us,” Mercer said. “We just weren’t ready, there’s no question.”
A 3-point goal by Michael Anderson bumped the Cardinal lead back to 16 just 1:12 into the final stanza.
That’s when the tide took a dramatic turn.
Miami’s 1-3-1 trapping defense disrupted the Cardinals’ momentum.
Drew Williams started MHS on a 10-0 run that shaved the margin down to six with 3:43 remaining.
Verdigris stemmed the tide with a baseline drive, then the Wardogs (8-8) put together an 11-0 burst that gave them their first lead of the night, 50-47 with 32.4 seconds left.
After a Verdigris bucket, Caleb Jinks bumped the lead back to 51-49 at the 11.2 mark.
A driving layup with a half-second remaining forced overtime.
“I was a little disappointed we gave up two straight drives to the bucket,” Mercer said. “We went man trying to avoid giving up the 3.”
Miami took charge at the outset of the extra period and never looked back.
“I firmly believe our game against Claremore Friday night (a 48-37 loss in the semifinals of the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Tournament) set the tone for this,” Mercer said. “They went up 24-3 and we got it cut seven or eight in the fourth quarter to give us a chance. We kept preaching all game long, even at halftime, ‘how many possessions are left in the game?’ you have to just keep playing the game.
“I think that game played a big part in these guys understanding that if we got into this situation again, its possible. I believe we drew on that, for sure.”
Miami had three players score in double figures.
Drew Williams led the way with 18 points (seven coming in overtime) while Lewis and Jinks had 16 and 15, respectively.
Kai Hamilton finished with nine points, followed by Conner Womack, five; Brant Morris, three, and Eli Chenoweth, two.
Miami was only 19 of 30 at the free throw line, but converted on 8 of 9 chances in overtime.
“We were the more hungry team,” Mercer said. “I am just elated — proud of my guys. Man.”
Anderson scored 17 and Tyler Haddock added 13 for the Cards.
Miami travels to Locust Grove Friday, Jan. 26 and Catoosa on Tuesday, Jan. 30.