Anacoco basketball coach Tracy Reese said he believes Friday’s Class B title game has a lengthy list of storylines that could make for a compelling game.
Start with No. 4 Midland, which ended a 37-year state-title drought last season, trying to become the first team in school history to successfully defend their crown.
Throw in, that it was Midland that stopped Anacoco 55-38 in last year’s semifinals, and that the No. 3 Indians are in pursuit of the school’s first state title.
“It seems like a story you would only make up,” said Reese, whose program returns to the title game for the first time since 2006. “They beat us out last year. They’re the defending champs, and there’s a lot riding on it. Of course, you always want revenge and to beat the team that beat you. I think we’re ready. We’re playing good, and I feel pretty good about it.”
Midland (25-5) meets Anacoco (31-10) in Friday’s Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Boys Top 28 tournament at 6 p.m. at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles.
“It’s definitely been a fun experience, and the kids are excited,” Midland first-year coach William Stanley said. “They enjoy working for each other. These kids have shown a lot of toughness. That’s one of the reasons why they’ve been so successful the last several years.”
Stanley, the program’s heir apparent after Todd Briley took over as school principal, said the topic of repeating as state champions was never something the coaching staff established as a season-long objective.
He said he’s heard such discussion amongst some of his players, including after Thursday’s 67-50 upset of top-seeded Florien.
“From a coaching aspect you never want to plan that far ahead, but the boys do,” Stanley said. “They’re teenagers, and they’ve said they wanted to make it back and repeat. We had some kids like Traven (Guidry) and Randy (Primeaux) who were excited in the locker room afterward saying, ‘one more game.’ ”
Guidry nearly reached his 12-point season’s average with 11 of his game-high 22 points in the first quarter of Midland’s semifinal game. The Rebels faced a 42-38 deficit entering the fourth quarter only to respond with a 25-12 run.
Devin Gautreaux was the catalyst in Midland’s fourth-quarter surge, going to work after Florien’s Keaton Booker fouled out and finished with 18 points. Primeaux added 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
“I’m hoping that momentum carries over,” said Stanley, whose team has won 15 straight games. “We’re a little banged up. We took some licks in that game. They played us pretty rough, and we started cramping up toward the end. Hopefully we can survive with one day’s rest.”
Anacoco, winners of 17 in a row, advanced to its third state final, brushing aside No. 2 Fairview, 65-55.
Reese’s nephew — 6-foot-4 junior swingman Will Reese — produced a double-double with 28 points and 13 rebounds, and senior guard Samuel Turnipseed draining three 3-pointers and scoring 17 points.
Stanley said Gautreaux, a 5-10 senior, will get the defensive assignment on Reese, who can also handle the ball and play on the perimeter.
“We have to keep them from getting to the basket because they don’t miss too many layups,” coach Reese said. “They’re good. I was very impressed with them. It seemed like they turned their game up, so they’re going to be tough to beat.”