Miami snapped out of a mid-season shooting slump Saturday night when it nabbed a 53-43 victory over Springfield (Mo.) Central in the final round of the Northeastern A&M High School Basketball Tournament's Boys' Blue bracket.
The win was the first in three tries for the Wardogs and it was just their second win in the past six starts.
Following Friday night's 52-38 loss to Wagoner, MHS coach Rusty Mercer said the Wardogs needed more consistency and to attack the basket.
They accomplished both for the most part.
“Our guys made concerted effort tonight to make the extra pass and get the ball to the rim,” Mercer said. “Their pressure was good on the perimeter, but we got the ball to the basket when needed. And we still had five ‘3s.' We were just a lot more efficient on offense.”
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.
The victory wasn't completely cut-and-dried.
After jumping out to the big early lead, MHS wound up falling behind 28-23 in the third quarter when the Bulldogs ran off six straight points.
A 3-point goal by Anderson started Miami on a game-turning 13-3 run to close out the quarter.
The Wardogs, up 36-31 entering the final frame, then got back-to-back buckets from Keith Anderson to go up by nine, 40-31.
The lead eventually reached 13 on a bucket by Nolan Couch and a pair of free throws by Anderson in the final 73 seconds.
“We talk all the time about playing with a sense of urgency,” Mercer said. “We got away from it last night .I liked the look in our eyes a lot better tonight. We showed a lot of toughness.”
Steven Johnson had 13 points for Central, which finished 0-3 in the tournament.
“The huge thing was we did a lot better job on the boards tonight,” Mercer said. “Rebounding has been an Achilles' heel and it reared its ugly head last night and we did a lot better job tonight. There is still work to do, but we did a lot better job. We played a lot tougher.”
Miami travels to Pryor Tuesday night to begin a busy stretch run.