LOCUST GROVE — Even though the outcome wasn’t any better, Miami coach Rusty Mercer saw some good things in the Wardogs’ 75-45 loss to 4A No. 14 Locust Grove here Friday night.
“As funny as it sounds, I saw a lot more positives and a lot more steps forward than I did Tuesday night and the game was much closer Tuesday night,” Mercer said, referring to Tuesday night’s 50-44 loss to Pryor.
The loss was the eighth straight for the Wardogs, who played at 9-2 Seneca, Mo., Saturday night.
After that, they’re idle until Thursday, when they face Tulsa Lincoln Christian at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in a first round Boys’ Round Robin game in the Northeastern A&M High School Tournament.
“We just have to take baby steps and commit to getting better,” Mercer said. “It’s not going to happen overnight. Slowly but surely, we hope in a couple of weeks we can be the team who we want to be. It’s a work in progress.
“I think we’ve wanted it to just happen just overnight, like we’re going to wake up and everything will be fixed. I think we are starting to understand that it’s not … that we have got to be committed to the long term.”
The Wardogs were minus starting guard Keaton Blevins, who suffered a bad ankle sprain in practice Wednesday.
He will be evaluated Tuesday.
Also, senior guard Tony Rodriguez was slowed by an ankle injury. He was held out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday, but still netted 13 points against Locust Grove.
The Pirates, under former Afton girls’ coach Ronnie Maple, erupted or 25 points in the first quarter and were never headed.
Locust Grove led 25-14 after one quarter, 42-24 at the half and 59-43 heading into the final stanza.
Four players scored in double figures for the Pirates, who ended a six-game losing streak to Miami.
Locust Grove’s last win in the rivalry was a 40-36 decision on Feb. 10, 2006.
“They’ve got a really good basketball team with a lot of weapons,” Mercer said. “They can beat you in a variety of ways. They are really physical and really shoot it well. It’s really ‘pick your poison.’”
C.J. Stafford led the way for the Pirates with 18 points. Pud Ross added 19, Adrian Houser had 15 and Trey Conner chipped in with 10.
“They are a year older and have matured, especially the big kid inside (Houser),” Mercer said.
Casey Hunter scored 18 for the Wardogs. Rodriguez netted 13 and Kade Pogue had 10.
“Our effort was pretty good the first part of the game,” Mercer said. “They went on a bit of a run and I think we took a step backwards. We didn’t respond very well. I thought we did respond well in the third quarter and first part of the fourth.”