VINITA — Struggles down the stretch in the second and third quarters doomed Miami’s boys to a third straight loss to Vinita.
The Hornets, who had taken the earlier meetings by six and eight points, glided to a 66-51 win here Friday night in the Class 4A Area II District 5 tournament.
“The last two minutes of the second quarter and the last two minutes of the third quarter killed us,” said Miami coach Rusty Mercer. “We made runs but then had breakdowns.”
A 3-point goal by Kade Pogue and back-to-back baseline drives by Casey Hunter left the Wardogs with a 27-19 deficit with 2:40 until intermission.
But a free throw by Chris Page was followed by a layup by Dee Willis, who added a short jumper moments later. That bumped the hosts’ lead to 32-19 at the break.
The Wardogs managed to stay within 10 points throughout the third quarter, the latest being 47-37 with 2:36 left on a jumper in the paint by Tony Rodriguez.
Willis again spurred the Hornets when he sandwiched buckets around a shot from in the lane by Bryce Ebbs to push the score to 53-37.
Vinita eventually led by 15 (60-45) with 4:08 left.
The Dogs went on a mini-run behind Trent Turner and Pogue to shave the deficit down to 11, but Vinita scored the final three points of the game to ice its victory.
“We did what we wanted to do defensively, but we shot ourselves in the foot on offense,” Mercer said. “We had too many quick possessions, too many turnovers. I kept trying to tell them ‘there is more time than you think,’ to slow it down some.”
Vinita beat Miami 61-53 at the James E. Sooter Activity Center on Tuesday.
The Hornets also claimed a 59-53 victory at Miami on Jan. 17.
And has had been the case in the earlier losses, the Wardogs were unable to get to the free throw line.
They converted on only 3 of 7 chances. Vinita was 11 of 17.
The Wardogs face either Oologah or Dewey Thursday at 3 p.m. in a loser-out game here in regional play.
Oologah and Dewey squared off Saturday night in their District 8 tournament at Oologah.
“They scored too many transition points,” Mercer said, noting that the Hornets had 11 second-chance points in the first half alone.
“That’s more than what we’ve been giving up lately,” Mercer said. “We dug ourselves a hole.”
Willis had 23 points while freshman Jake Bullard chipped in with 21 for the Hornets.
Miami had three players in double figures, topped by Pogue with 14.
Miami 9 10 18 14 — 51
Vinita 22 10 21 13 — 66
Miami — Pogue 14, Turner 13, Hunter 10, Rodriguez 6, Delano 6, Blevins 2.
Vinita — Willis 23, Bullard 21, Ramsey 7, Ebbs 6, Hext 3, Page 3.
3-point goals – Delano 2, Pogue 2, Turner 1, Hext 1, Chamberlain 1.