LAKE CHARLES — Defending state champion Midland was supposed to be the underdog. The Rebels were seeded fourth.
If you think playoff seeding provides a substantial number, Midland has some other numbers for you after its 67-50 victory over top-seeded Florien in a Class B semifinal played Wednesday at Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Boys Top 28 tournament.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” first-year Midland coach William Stanley said. “We fought all year and all summer long just to get to this point. A lot of people didn’t think we’d get back here. (The Rebels) work hard for me every day, and they’ve got a lot of pride.”
Midland (25-5) advances to play No. 3 Anacoco in the Class B final set for 6 p.m. Friday at Burton Coliseum.
Traven Guidry came into the game averaging 12.8 points. Guidry scored 11 in the first quarter and finished with a game-high 22 points. He made 9 of 10 shots from the field and 3 of 4 free throws. Devin Gautreaux had 18 points, and Randy Primeaux added 13 for Midland, which made 53.3 percent of its shots from the field.
What was more impressive is the smaller Rebels outrebound Florien (33-7) by a 31-23 margin. Dylan Boudreaux’s nine assists illustrated Midland’s ability to share the ball and make an extra pass to hit the open man, more often than not, near the goal.
And finally, a 25-12 fourth-quarter surge broke open what had been a four-point game.
“We got beat,” Florien coach Klifford Walker offered in his brief comments to the media. “(The Rebels) outplayed us.”
Bailey Walker and Anthony Kimbrough each had 13 points for the Black Cats.
Midland controlled the first half, often getting inside on back-door plays to burn the Black Cats. The Rebels raced out to a 5-0 lead.
Florien took a brief 11-9 lead on a basket by Jacob Oxley. But Midland led 16-13 after one quarter.
A 3-pointer by Kimbrough got Florien within two at 22-20. Midland scored the final seven points of the half including a 3-pointer by Gautreaux with 21 seconds left in the half to made it 29-20.
Primeaux opened the second half with a 3-pointer for the Rebels, extending their lead to 12 points. Midland led by as much as 12 points in the third quarter before Florien countered.
A layup by Keaton Booker made it 38-35 with 2:53 left. A steal led to a free throw by Keion Sweet, which cut Midland’s lead to two at 38-36 with 2:20 left. Midland scored four of the final six points, including a layup by Gautreaux and led 42-38 after three quarters.
Midland added to its lead by scoring seven of the first nine fourth-quarter points. That 49-40 lead with 6:43 left was only the start. The Rebels led by as much as 20 points in the final minutes.
“It’s our senior year, and we needed to go out with a bang,” Guidry said. “But we were so nervous at the beginning. It took us time to calm down, and we played our hearts out. The chance to take a state championship … it’s a real good feeling.”