WAGONER — While they never were in danger, about the only time the Miami boys could breath easy in Friday’s game against Wagoner was when the final horn sounded.
“It was really a roller-coaster ride,” Miami coach Rusty Mercer said. “We have to get more consistent, but the bottom line is, we won the game. We did a lot of good things.”
The Wardogs enter the holiday break with a 5-1 record, the lone loss coming last Saturday in the finals of the Sperry Invitational against Tulsa Holland Hall.
The Dutch upset 3A No. 2 Tulsa Cascia Hall on Friday.
“This team has a chance to be pretty good,” Mercer said of his Wardogs. “We’ve got to get in the gym and get better. We’re 4-1 and happy with that, but we can be better.”
The Wardogs — now 2-0 in the Verdigris Valley — held a 31-26 lead at the half, but were unable to widen the comfort zone until midway through the third quarter thanks to a 10-0 run.
Johnathan Brice got six of his nine points in the game on the backside of the run, scoring twice from in the paint and again on a follow-up of a miss by Trent Turner.
That was one of the few errant shots launched by Turner and Miami, which converted on 32 of 42 field goal attempts from 2-point range. Turner was 8-of-10.
A 12-2 surge by the Bulldogs late in the game slashed Miami’s lead to 68-61 with 2:15 remaining.
However, the Dogs converted on seven of eight free throw chances down the stretch, allowing them to hold Wagoner at bay.
“If we had made free throws in the first half when we got them in foul trouble early, it might have been a different story,” Mercer said. “But we let them hang around. We built some big leads and kept letting them creep back into it.”
Four players scored in double figures for the Wardogs, topped by Turner’s 19.
James Pickens added 14, Casey Hunter tallied 13 and Tony Rodriguez added 12.
“We had too many turnovers again, but we forced a lot,” Mercer said, noting that MHS had 18 turnovers and forced the Bulldogs into 22.
Jordan Lewis and Tristan Peterson had 19 and 14 points, respectively, for Wagoner.
“We stayed in that 1-3-1 (zone) because it was bothering them,” Mercer said. “We didn’t rotate a few times and let down. We got the lead, exhaled a little bit and our effort dropped. We’ve got to learn to put people away.”
Miami returns to action Jan. 6 when it travels to Grove.
Miami 7 12 15 5 8 — 47
Wagoner 13 6 9 11 11 — 50
Miami — Vail 17, Rhodes 9, Osborn 6, Carder 4, Neal 4, Stewart 3, Hicks 2, Young 2.
Wagoner — Foreman 13, McJunkins 9, Love 9, Chumley 8, Monk 5, Jones 4, Fender 2.
3-point goals — Rhodes 1.