Midland hosts Fairview: Northside Christian to entertain Phoenix

CROWLEY – The Midland Rebels have been there before – as recently as last year.

Unlike last year, however, the Rebels are hoping for a different outcome.

“Last year it was tough,” said Midland coach Todd Briley, remembering how the Rebels were handicapped by an injury to standout Allen Fontenot and lost their Class B quarterfinal game to Castor, 49-41.

“We lost Alan so that made a big difference. This year we are healthy and I think we have a good chance.”

The Rebels (30-3) continue their quest for a Class B title tonight at home when they meet Fairview (31-8) at 7 o’clock.

The game will be the third between the two teams this year. Each has won once.

“Both teams are good so it’s going to come down to who can make the plays and get the stops,” said Briley. “It’s going to be two teams that are going to play hard and I think it’s going to be a very entertaining game.”

If it is anything like the first two regular-season meetings between the two teams, entertaining is an understatement.

Midland defeated Fairview 65-50 at home on Nov. 8 before the Panthers evened things up with a 66-59 victory over the Rebels a week later in the Hathaway tournament.

“We’ve played them twice this year so we have a pretty good idea of what they can do,” said Briley. “They do a lot of things good, but I think we’re ready to go. It’s just going to be a matter of us getting out there and executing.”

The two teams are similar in many ways, said Briley. The Panthers, like the Rebels, like to smother opponents with their defense and, also like the Rebels, they are dangerous in transition.

That was never more evident than in the Panthers’ first-round playoff victory when they scored 106 points against Monterey .

“The thing for us is going to be trying to stop those guys,” said Briley. “What makes them so tough is that they are all a threat to score. They have two guys that are really good players and they have some, that if you help off them too much, they can hurt you, too. They have some weapons.

“They press a lot and have the ability to get the ball up the floor really quick. They are one of the best teams in getting the ball out and running that thing down the floor. If you take a break and fall asleep for a second with these guys, you are going to give up some points.”

For the Rebels, the key to success will be their execution.

“We know what we have to do, it’s just a matter of getting out there and doing it,” said Briley. “We have to handle the ball well. We like to get up and down, but if we don’t get anything on the breaks, we have to be patient on the offensive end and look for good shots.”

Phoenix @ NCS

The Northside Christian Warriors added another chapter in the history books Friday by defeating Sicily Island , 47-41, to reach the Class C quarterfinals for the first time ever.

And as thrilling as that come-from-behind victory was, the Warriors have put it past them rather quickly.

Now the focus is on No. 6 Phoenix, which invades Seth Trahan Memorial gym this evening (6:30) for a quarterfinal showdown.

“Friday was a big night for us,” said NCS coach Byron Starks. “And we celebrated that victory for a little while, but it was a short celebration. Then we went right back to the drawing board to prepare for Phoenix .”

Phoenix, which is led by guard Donte Williams, enters the game with a record of 32-5 after blowout playoff victories over Assembly Christian (66-25) and Pleasant Hill (82-47).

“Williams is a very talented player,” said Starks. “He can shoot the ball well and he’s their best player on the floor. We’ll have our hands full with him.

“They also have two other kids that are good shooters. We’ll just have to play solid defense, limit their penetration and make them try and shoot over the top of us.”

Phoenix also uses a trapping full-court press, much like the one Sicily Island displayed Friday against Northside.

“They are a speedy team and they pretty much press the entire game,” said Starks. “They just try to get you out of rhythm from anything that you do. They just want to make it a helter-skelter game and try to score a lot of transition buckets off their defense.

“We just have to go out, be patient, pick them apart and put the ball in the right spot.”

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