Picking up some momentum that they never could gain in the first half of the season is a priority for Miami's boys, who host Jay tonight in a Verdigris Valley Conference game.

It's the second in a stretch that will see the Wardogs play seven of their next nine games in Miami.

They travel to Seneca, Mo., Monday, then are at Locust Grove on Jan. 18 for their only road dates through the end of the month.

“We need to gain some momentum and keep this thing going,” Miami coach Rusty Mercer said.

Miami went 3-4 during the 2007 portion of the schedule, dropping their last three against Webb City, Mo., Joplin, Mo., and Pryor.

However, they returned from a three-plus-week layoff Tuesday night and rolled to a 75-19 victory against Grove.

“It's hard to explain what happened on both ends,” Mercer said. “It was one of those nights. It was pretty surprising - I did not expect it to go that way.”

The Wardogs held Grove to single digits in all four quarters and yielded only five points in the second half - three points in the third period and two in the fourth. The Ridgerunners went 14:36 between the two buckets.

“You are never as good as the best game you've played or as bad as your worst one,” Mercer said. “Tuesday was one of those nights.”

Jake Roberts and Michael Anderson had 17 points each and James Pickens added 12.

“They've got some young, talented kids,” Mercer said. “They are getting better and better. They are going through a youth movement.”

Jay (2-9) is under first-year coach Wes Hayes, a former Tahlequah and Northeastern State player.

The Bulldogs, who returned only one starter from a team that went 1-23 a year ago, suffered a 69-44 loss to Pryor on Tuesday. That came on the heels of a 50-36 loss to Grove last Friday.

“The kids they are playing now at the varsity level have won a lot of junior high basketball games,” Mercer said. “They are getting more experienced with every game they play.”

Miami's girls suffered a 49-23 loss to Grove, their fifth straight setback.

As has been the case during the slump, the Lady Wardogs fell behind early as Grove broke out to an 11-5 lead in the first quarter. They didn't get their first points until the 5:38 mark when Faith Wilkins nailed a 3-point goal.

The Lady Ridgerunners led 20-9 at the half.

Jay's girls (6-5) look to bounce back from a 44-37 loss to Pryor.

Four starters are back from a team that finished 5-18 in 2006-07.

Miami faces four games next week then takes time off before the Northeastern A&M High School basketball Tournament.