NEOSHO, Mo. — Miami certainly didn’t earn any style points for Tuesday night’s 69-62 victory over Neosho, Mo., but they did get what counts — a victory.
“We’re not going to apologize for winning,” Miami coach Rusty Mercer said. “We got off to a good start and I really thought we were ready to play, but just really struggled to find any kind of rhythm. We never could get ourselves under control.”
The Wardogs, winning for the second time in three straight outings against interstate opponents, used a 9-2 burst in the third quarter to shake off Neosho.
The Wardogs had led only 52-50 with 4:59 remaining after a baseline drive by reserve Marcus Middleton.
But a layup by Casey Hunter, set up by an outlet pass from James Pickens, started Miami on its game-turning rally. Hunter added a baseline drive, Trent Turner scored from inside then Tony Rodriguez added a short jumper and free throw to bump the score to 61-52 with 1:32 remaining.
The closest Neosho got after that was six on two occasions down the stretch.
“We finally settled back down and put some good possessions together, both offensively and defensively, to get control of it again,” Mercer said. “We tried to get them to relax and wake up. We finally got them to wake up.”
Kade Pogue had a career-best 19 points for the Wardogs. He drained five 3-point goals.
“Kade Pogue came off the bench to hit some really, really big shots when we were struggling,” Mercer said. “He hit a couple momentum 3s.”
Pogue was joined in double figures by Pickens with 15 points and Turner with 14.
Neosho, which has won only four games all season, didn’t have anybody in double figures, but did have 10 players score at least three points.
Kagean Wilkey led the Cats with nine points while Michael Lowe added eight.
“They are like that every year — they play a really, really good schedule,” Mercer said. “They beat us last year at the Civic Center with the same type of record. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Their record is very deceiving.”
At the outset, it looked like Miami might enjoy a cakewalk, breaking out to a 10-2 lead in the first 4:18. But the Wildcats eventually battled back to within 23-19, then finally took the lead (26-23) on a 7-0 run.
The Wardogs finished the half with a trey from Pogue and a bucket from inside by Rodriguez.
Then to start the third quarter, Johnny Brice hit two free throws and Turner added a layup to give MHS a 32-26 edge.
But once again, the Wildcats clawed their way back into the game and eventually went on top 40-38 on buckets by Michael Lowe and Tony Culp and a free throw by Alex Wise.
Miami carried a 47-43 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Wardogs host Wagoner Friday night in a Verdigris Valley Conference clash at the Dogdome.
Miami 13 15 19 21 — 69
Neosho, Mo. 8 18 17 19 — 62
Miami — Pogue 19, Pickens 15, Turner 14, Hunter 8, Rodriguez 6, Blevins 5, Brice 2.
Neosho — Wilkey 9, Lowe 8, Todd 6, Westfield 6, Culp 6, Henry 6, Middleton 4, Crandall 3.
3-point goals — Pogue 5, Pickens 3, Turner 1, Todd 2, Lowe 2, Wise 1, Wilkey 1.