Different seed, same result.
That is the theme for No. 4 Midland in its Class B Boys Top 28 State Tournament semifinal game the Rebels will vie for their second straight final appearance when they take on No. 1 Florien at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Burton Coliseum.
Midland coach William Stanley said his team wants to repeat history in more ways than one.
“Last year, Fairview was the No. 4 seed, and they ended up beating Florien who was the No. 1 seed,” Stanley said. “So it’s definitely doable, (Florien) is definitely beatable, if we step up and play our game.
“I just don’t have as many guys with game experience in those types of situations as I did last year.”
The Rebels lost three players who played big minutes for last year’s championship team.
While many players who were on the squad return to Lake Charles this year, Stanley said he would have liked to have gotten them more minutes to prepare them for what is to come.
“I wish they would have had a little more playing time in those games last year, but they’ve at least experienced the atmosphere,” Stanley said. “But the playing time issue may cause us some butterflies.”
Stanley said the coaching staff has tried to simulate as much of the experience as they can in practice, with the players who saw game time imparting as much wisdom as they can to the new starters.
“We go through those situations in practice all the time, so it definitely helps,” Stanley said. “I’ve discussed it with the majority of the players the things that might have to happen in certain situations, and the different kinds of adjustments we will have to make.”
Having seen Florien fall in its semifinal game last year, Stanley knows what to expect from a team he sees plenty of the same traits he sees in his team.
Stanley said Florien plays a similar high-pressure, tough defense that the Rebels do.
While Florien brings an intense full-court press at times to fluster opposing ball handlers, Stanley said his team is prepared for whatever the Black Cats throw at them.
“They have some excellent full-court pressure stuff that I’ve seen, but we have something to counter that so I’m not too worried about it,” Stanley said. “We’ve definitely discussed Plan A, Plan B and all the way to Plan D.”
Florien runs a flex offense as its base set, something Stanley said his team is prepared to stop with high-intensity ball pressure.
If the Rebels can stymie Florien’s sets, Stanley said he thinks they will have the upper hand.
“(Our high pressure defense) is very important if we can pressure the right people,” Stanley said. “If we put enough pressure on them and not let them run the flex offense that they do, I believe that we should have the upper hand in the first half.”
“I always like to tell the boys let your defense create your offense,” Stanley said.
“If you’re getting fast break layups, you don’t have to set up an offense, so that is our philosophy.”