Fairview upends Midland in quarterfinal showdown

MIDLAND – The smothering defense and fast paced offense was on display once again at Midland High School Tuesday evening.

Unfortunately for the host Rebels, it was No. 5 Fairview doing the smothering and speeding up the game.

The visiting Panthers (32-8) turned the tables on the Rebels, forcing the hosts into 15 turnovers and running off 53 points in the second half en route to a surprisingly easy 81-66 Class B quarterfinal victory at the MHS gym.

It was the third meeting of the year between the two teams. Each had won once.

“They jumped on us early and we never really were able to get in a rhythm,” said Midland coach Todd Briley, whose team finished the season with a record of 30-3. “They (Fairview) are a good team. They stepped up and made shots, made free throws and they handled our pressure and everything we threw at them.”

In the end, it was Fairview’s pressure that proved to be the determining factor.

The Panthers’ fullcourt press gave the Rebels difficulty the entire night, especially early on, forcing 10 turnovers in the first half.

“Their press really hurt us,” said Briley. “And we had spent a lot of time working on that. We just couldn’t get a guy in the middle to where we could relieve some of the passing lanes.

“Our spacing was horrible in our press offense and I think that was one of the biggest factors tonight because we’d turn the ball over and it rattled us.”

Despite the turnovers in the first half, the Rebels still only trailed 28-23 at the half.

But any hopes of a comeback faded in third quarter when Fairview opened the game up with a 5-0 run to start the frame and went on to lead by as many as 17 with under a minute to go.

A 3-pointer by Andrew Hains and back-to-back buckets by Alan Vondenstein cut the lead to 10 (50-40) at the end of the period, giving the Rebels a ray of hope.

And after Fairview extended the lead to 12 (58-46) just two minutes into the fourth quarter, Midland made another push.

Three straight baskets by Vondenstein and one by Hains cut the margin to six (60-54) with just under five minutes to go.

Then the bottom fell out.

The Panthers finished the game outscoring the Rebels 21-12 in the remaining minutes to seal the victory.

“We made some runs here and there but it was like fighting an uphill battle the whole time,” said Briley. “We’d make a run and cut it to six and then give up four or five points.”

Midland was also hindered by a subpar shooting performance. The Rebels shot just 40 percent from the floor, making just four of their 17 attempts from 3-point range while connecting on 21 of their 46 shots inside the arch. They also hit just 12 of their 23 attempts from the free throw line.

“We just didn’t shoot with a lot of confidence tonight,” said Briley. “We were hesitant and unsure when we shot. We had some good looks, we just couldn’t knock them down.”

Vondenstein carried much of the offensive load for the Rebels, scoring a season-high 30 points in the paint. Hains followed with 18 points, nine from beyond the arch.

Cody Stutes came off the bench and pitched in six points and Chase Vincent had four. Others scoring for the Rebels were: Devin Gautreaux, three; Randy Primeaux and Jake Gautreaux, two each and Michael Primeaux, one.

Fairview was led by guards Josh Walker and Tyler Maddox with 27 and 21 points, respectively.

“Overall, it was a good year,” said Briley. “We just hoped we could have went a little further. The kids are disappointed and I’m disappointed, but the kids played hard; they tried hard and I’m proud of them but we did get outplayed tonight.”

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