The intensity that Rusty Mercer likes to see from his Miami Wardogs was back Tuesday night.
But the results weren't any different as the Dogs suffered a 65-56 loss to Wagoner in a Verdigris Valley Conference basketball game at the Dogdome.
“I thought our effort was a lot better tonight than it was last night,” Mercer said, referring to Monday night's 58-46 loss at Seneca, Mo. “That was by far the second-best team we've played this year. I think our guys are confident we can play with people like that. We will see more like that in the future - and in the playoffs.”
The Wardogs were up 34-30 at intermission but saw Wagoner come to life in the third quarter.
The visitors scored the first six points of the second half to go up 36-34, then there were six lead changes and two ties the rest of the way. The teams were deadlocked at 45 heading into the fourth quarter.
There were another four lead changes and a tie in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, which saw Miami cling to a 52-50 advantage.
However, the Bulldogs got a bucket from Stacey Brown, a free throw from Jermaine Sherman and a layup from Everett Shaver to take the lead for good, 55-52 with 2:40 remaining.
Buckets by Trent Turner pulled the Wardogs to within two points twice, 55-54 and 57-56. But they wouldn't score again, as Wagoner got the final eight points - the capper a dunk by Sherman off a break set up by a steal with 3 seconds left.
Twice the Bulldogs had chances at conventional 3-point plays but missed the free throw.
“We had chances,” Mercer said. “That's a really good team, very athletic. We were really searching for a defense to cover them. With their athleticism and they have the ability to shoot it, so they are really tough to cover. They have a big kid inside you have to give attention to.”
Michael Anderson fired in 22 points for the Wardogs, getting 12 of that in the first quarter.
He was joined in double figures by Jake Roberts, who added 11.
“We did enough offensively for most of the night to be there,” Mercer said. “Down the stretch a stop here and couple of shots thereŠ obviously we don't block out there late.”
Miami shot 60 percent from 2-point range, downing 15 of 25 chances. The Wardogs also were 5 of 21 from behind the arc.
“That's a good percentage inside, and really we had a good percentage going early behind the 3-point line and had some late that just didn't go,” Mercer said. “We just couldn't get one to drop when we needed to late.”
Brown had a game-high 20 points for Wagoner. He had eight points in the first quarter and came back with eight in the third.
Josh Ford and Sherman each had 13 points. Sherman got seven of his in the decisive fourth quarter.
Miami travels to Locust Grove Friday night. The boys' game will tip off at 6:30 p.m. as part of LGHS' homecoming ceremonies.
The games also will be played in Locust Grove's new arena, which is located next to the football field.
Wagoner 14 16 15 20 - 65
Miami 19 15 11 11 - 56
Wagoner - Brown 20, Ford 13, Sherman 13, Shaver 7, Parker 5, Adams 5, Golden 2.
Miami - Anderson 22, Delano 12, Roberts 11, Pickens 5, Chesnut 4, Turner 2.
3-point goals - Ford 1, Parker 1, Adams 1, Roberts 1, Pickens 1, Anderson 3.