When the Midland boys basketball team takes the court for its Class B semifinal matchup with Florien on Wednesday at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles, there will be no question what everyone in the community will be doing.
For a town with an estimated population of under 4,000, a successful team becomes the center of attention, especially when that team is trying to win back-to-back state championships.
Midland coach William Stanley said the support from the community throughout this year’s playoff run has been no different than what he’s come to expect during his time as coach.
“Ever since I’ve been here, every time we’ve made (the playoffs), we’ve had an outpouring of support from the community,” Stanley said. “The more playoff games you win, the more people you start to see.
“Even people who hadn’t come to a game all season are coming out. It is great to see.”
After securing the No. 4 seed, Midland played each of its first three playoff games at home, holding its opponents below 50 points each time.
The energy his team received from the crowd is not lost on Stanley, who said the fans helped fuel his team to victory in every game.
“Our cheerleaders design a T-shirt, and the community just goes crazy in purchasing those shirts,” Stanley said. “That’s how we create our sea of red in the stands.”
Even having to travel to Lake Charles for the semifinal in the team’s first road playoff game, Stanley is confident in not only his team’s chances, but of the fans supporting the team.
Stanley said his team has shot a higher percentage from the field on the road this season, despite going long stretches without losing a game on its home court.
“If you look at our numbers, (playing on the road) will actually be a little bit of an advantage for us, shooting wise,” Stanley said. “It’s a little strange, but we shot better on the road than we did at home, especially in district.”
Playing in an early game — tip-off is slated for 4:30 — will make it difficult for some fans to travel, but Stanley said many Stanley people are finding a way around the early start time.
“Being the early game, I think it will affect a lot of our fan base, but we have people taking vacation time to go, so it shouldn’t hurt us too bad,” Stanley said. “I do wish we had the later time. It would help out a lot, but a lot of our parents work in Lake Charles, so that helps out a little bit with fans being able to go.”