SPERRY - Just three games into the 2007-08 season, Miami has already eclipsed its win total for all of last season.
Now the Lady Wardogs have a little more incentive to go for win No. 4 - they are in the finals of the Sperry Tournament.
They rolled to a 53-35 victory over Collinsville in a semifinal game here Thursday night.
Miami will face either Pawhuska or Berryhill in the 6:30 p.m. championship game Saturday.
“It's great for the girls and it's great for the program,” Miami coach JohnCarl Morgan said. “We had excellent intensity throughout the game.”
The Lady Wardogs were 2-18 in Morgan's first season, but now they are off to a 3-0 start following earlier wins over Coffeyville, Kan., and Sperry.
“Collinsville last year was a state semifinalist,” Morgan said. “They graduated heavy and they are down, but at the same time, it's still Collinsville. Collinsville basketball on the girls' side is always, always good.”
The Lady Wardogs jumped out to a 12-9 lead in the first quarter then coasted into the break with a 28-14 margin.
Collinsville tightened things up in the third quarter with a 12-7 edge, but MHS broke the game open with an 18-9 run over the final eight minutes.
“We finally put them away in the fourth quarter,” Morgan said. “We really came through. We were still aggressive in our offense. We weren't playing scared - we were playing to finish the game and were playing to win.”
One of the keys to Miami's success was a steady reduction in the number of turnovers. They had 29 against Collinsville and 37 against Sperry.
“Every game, we've continued to cut down on them,” Morgan said. “The sooner we learn the importance of each possession, the better off we will be.”
On the plus side, Miami forced the Lady Cardinals into 22 turnovers.
The Lady Wardogs had 16 steals, including seven by senior Emily Cline.
“Our defense was all over the place,” Morgan said. “We didn't foul. We only sent them to the line 15 times. That was a strength last season and we've built on it. Now our offense is starting to come around.”
For the third straight game, Miami had a different individual lead the scoring attack.
Thursday, it was senior guard Alyssa Johnson with 13 points.
She was joined in double figures by Mickey Prairie Chief and Faith Wilkins with 12 and 11, respectively.
“We're picking up the slack when we need to and whatever the matchups give us, we take,” Morgan said.
“Our posts had a hard game in the first half,” Morgan said. “We challenged them at the half and they stepped up. They started contributing, not necessarily in points but in other areas.”
Kelsey Neal had only two points but she contributed five rebounds, Morgan said.
Cline was the Lady Wardogs' leading rebounder with six.
“Collinsville's post game was their strength,” Morgan said. They had some pretty tall athletic girls in there.”