PRYOR - Miami's game tonight is important in more ways than one.
Not only are the Wardogs and Pryor perched atop the Verdigris Valley Conference with unbeaten records, the game looms large in determining post-season seeding.
The 10-2 Tigers are ranked 14th in Class 5A by the Tulsa World. Miami broke into the 5A rankings this week at No. 20.
“It's not a make-or-break' game yet, but it has implications on the 5A rankings, which are about to come out, Miami coach Rusty Mercer said.
Coaches in Classes 6A and 5A (Miami has moved up to 5A this season) vote on the 16 teams on their half of the state. Mercer said Oklahoma City Western Heights and Edmond Deer Creek have been moved to the east to balance out the numbers.
Regional tournament sites and pairings will be based on the coaches' rankings.
“If we get a win tonight, that would be huge, Mercer said. “It would put us ahead (of Pryor) in the 5A seedings.
The Wardogs posted a 53-43 win Saturday night over Springfield (Mo.) Central in the final go-round of the Boys' Blue round robin bracket at the Northeastern A&M High School Basketball Tournament.
Mercer implored his players to attack the basket - something that's been missing during a recent swoon that has seen the Wardogs lose four of their past six games.
Senior center Cody Corntassel pounded away inside for the Dogs in the first quarter, getting 10 of his 14 points. He scored Miami's first eight points and helped open up a 12-2 advantage.
Corntassel's success inside helped open things up on the outside, with Michael Anderson pouring in 20 points.
Miami and Pryor split games last year, each posting home-floor wins.
“It was an eye-opening experience but the guys really made an effort to do what we needed to do, Mercer said. “We had a great practice Monday - we had the same look in our eyes. If we can take that to Pryor, we will be in good shape.
The Tigers pinned the first loss of the season on 3A No. 2 Adair Saturday night in the finals of the Pryor Tournament, escaping with a 46-44 decision.
The teams split games last year.
Pryor claimed a 52-51 overtime win in the first meeting at the Burdick Center, the game winner coming from Cain Wright with just over 60 seconds remaining.
The rematch three weeks later was another nail-biter, with the Wardogs pulling off a 49-47 upset at the Dogdome.
Four consecutive free throws by Justin Berry, the last coming with 14 seconds left, gave Miami a 49-44 advantage. A trey by Keegan Reed with three seconds left created the final margin.
In the girls' game, it will be a homecoming for Lady Wardog coach JohnCarl Morgan.
Morgan was an assistant coach here for three seasons before taking the MHS job in the off-season.
Miami's girls broke a nine-game losing streak Friday when they topped Tulsa Victory Christian 38-36 in a Girls' Blue consolation game at the NEO tourney.
Kenna Laxton's turnaround jumper with 32 seconds remaining helped the Lady Wardogs pull out their win.
Courtney Creedon seemingly gave Victory a victory when she drilled a 3-point goal with 52 seconds to play.
However, following a time out to set the stage, Laxton came through in the clutch.
Laxton finished with 13 points and Acuna added 10.
Pryor's girls finished third in their own tourney, drilling Claremore Sequoyah 44-38.