Midland High basketball coach William Stanley is trying to do something that hasn’t been accomplished since the 1970s.
After winning the state championship last season, Midland is on the brink of returning to the Top 28 again this season.
“Back-to-back chances at the Top 28? It would be huge for us, it hasn’t happened since the ’70s,” Stanley said.
“It means a lot to the community, not only to players and the coaches. In a small community like this when you make playoffs, the more and more fans you have.”
But first the Rebels need to take care of business on their homecourt in their quarterfinal game against Simsboro in a 7 p.m. game Friday.
Stanley said he expects a tough matchup, but playing at home for the third straight game in the playoffs should give his team an advantage.
“Looking at our record here at home, I think we’ve got a pretty good shot,” Stanley said. “Our last loss here came against Acadiana in our tournament, so I think it is an excellent opportunity.”
Midland lost just three players that helped them win a state championship last season.
Stanley said the experience of last year’s team has played a big role in helping this year’s team duplicate that success.
“We have two starters back from last year’s team, and all these guys who are starting now were on the team last year,” Stanley said.
Even with an experienced squad, Stanley said his team has seen some early-game jitters in their first- and second- round games.
The Rebels came back to beat both opponents by comfortable margins, but shooting struggles early in games have shown themselves because of nerves, Stanley said.
“These first two playoff games you could tell we were a little nervous with all the pressure and the hype,” Stanley said. “But as soon as the first quarter is over we’re getting comfortable with it.”
Stanley said he knows as the Rebels advance through the playoffs the margin for error will be smaller, but he has confidence in his team’s defense to create easy shots for the offense.
The Rebels’ aggressive man-to-man defense has played a role in settling the team throughout the playoffs.
“In the first game, we couldn’t hit our open shots to save our lives, same thing in the second game,” Stanley said. “But we started putting a lot of pressure on the ball and got some turnovers that led to wide open layups at the basket.”
The aggressive ball pressure is something Stanley said will help his team overcome Simsboro in the quarterfinal.
Stanley said after reviewing the tape of Simsboro’s game against Stanley in the regional round, he said the Rebels can force turnovers on the perimeter to create easy offense.
But, Stanley was concerned with his team’s ability to match up with Simsboro’s offensive style.
“Matching up might be an issue for us on defense. They play four guards,” Stanley said. “We are going to have our forward matched up on a guard, and that’s where the matchup problem is for us.
“I believe we will be able to put a lot of pressure on their guards. They play four guards, but I don’t think they can handle the kind of pressure that we are going to bring.”