Rebels primed for semifinals

CROWLEY – Midland’s quarterfinal victory over Hornbeck Friday sends the Rebels back to the Top 28 for the first time since 2004, but reaching their first championship game since 1979 will be no small task.

The Rebels will square off with No. 3 seed Zwolle Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. in a semifinal showdown at the Cajun Dome. Zwolle has won three of the last four Class B state titles and was the runnerup in the other.

“Zwolle is good,” understated Midland coach Todd Briley. “They lost a lot of those kids off last year’s state championship team but it’s the same game. They just fill in the blanks with some new names.

“We know going in that it’s not going to be easy. It never is when you get to this stage of the game. If we go over there with the right mindset and compete, we have a good chance of coming out with a win.”

Zwolle is no stranger to Briley and his squad. The Hawks knocked the Rebels out of the playoffs twice (2006 and 2007) in the second round.

“They still play the same style of game,” said Briley. “They just don’t have the same type of players they had then. But they’re still good. They play a man-to-man defense and they get it out the next quick. They run a sideline break and they can get it up the floor. They are tough to defend in transition.”

Zwolle’s Marvin Frazier and David Smith look to play a key role for the Hawks. Frazier stands at 6-foot-8 in the post while Smith is just over 6-foot-3. Breion Beaver will also provide a tough challenge at the guard position. Beaver poured in 18 points in the Hawks’ 63-50 quarterfinal victory over Simsboro last Friday.

“They have the size advantage,” said Briley. “We will have to bother their guards. They will try to go inside on us so we have to be able to harass their guards and try and create some turnovers like we’ve been doing.

“We’ll definitely have to make a commitment to go hit people hard with bodies and try to keep them off the glass and eliminate the putbacks.”

Offensively, the Rebels will look to their senior standouts - Miles Prejean, B.J. Cormier and Colby Gantt - to carry the load.

“We will need to patient and work hard for good looks,” said Briley. “We’ll have to knock down some shots. If we play smart, hard and shoot the ball well, I like our chances.”

This will be Midland’s first trip to the semifinals in the last six years and eighth since 1972. The Rebels lone state title was in 1977.

“This is great for our kids and our community,” said Briley. “People are really excited and fired up. We’re going to do our best to keep them fired up a little longer.”

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