Midland tops Fairview for Class B state title

Midland’s Randy Primeaux goes up for a layup Friday during the Rebels’ 61-51 victory over Fairview in the Class B state championship game at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles. (Photo by Roddy Johnson)

LAKE CHARLES - The drought is over for the Midland Rebels.
Thirty seven years after winning their last — and only — boys’ state basketball championship, the Rebels finally won again, beating Fairview, 61-51, in the Class B title game Friday at Burton Coliseum.
The Rebels, meeting Fairview for the third time of the 2013-14 season, got All-Star performances Friday from guards Randy Primeaux and Jake Gautreaux, who combined for 41 points, in winning the school’s first championship since 1977 when they also won in Lake Charles, then under now MHS principal Clyde Briley.
Friday, it was Briley’s son, Todd, who was in the head coach’s seat on the bench when the final horn sounded, his father also on the bench, there to share the experience with him.
“We’ve worked so hard to get to this point and I am just so happy for these boys,” said an exuberant Todd Briley, who was only a year old the last time Midland celebrated a state title. “I think all the days running in the sand pits, pushing pickup trucks and the 3- and 4-mile conditioning runs in the summertime went into this.
“We mold our kids. We take what we get and build something out of it.
“All the hard work, you know, I guess sometimes it really does pay off.”
A huge following from Midland (28-3) was on hand at Burton Coliseum as a hustling Primeaux provided the spark, scoring a season-high 22 points and just missing out on a double-double with nine rebounds. The junior guard also had three assists and three steals en route to being named the Class B state title game’s Most Outstanding Player by the working media.
“This was one of the best games Randy has ever played,” said Briley. “He came out and handled the ball strong. He was getting bumped, but he’s strong and he finished around the goal.”
Briley said Primeaux’s effort was no surprise.
“He has improved so much in the last three weeks,” said Briley. “He’s gotten much better with his decision making and just being able to drive and get to the goal. I’m not going to be his coach next year, but I encourage him to get where he can shoot the ball from the perimeter and if he does that, he will be an outstanding player.”
Gautreaux was also a force, closing out his prep career with another solid night by scoring 19 points while grabbing seven rebounds. He went 3-of-6 from beyond the arch, all three thwarting potential runs by the Panthers.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better team to play for,” said Gautreaux. “These guys stuck it out every day. We work hard at practice and it shows on the court.”
Gautreaux, who is the Rebels’ leading scorer on the year, finished with 29 points in his final two games.
“We’ve gone to Jake a lot this year and he took on that role,” said Briley. “But he also did a great job of stepping back and trusting his teammates. He’s a clutch guy and he’s hit a number of game winners for us, but for us to really be good, he had to trust in his teammates and he learned how to do that and he really learned how to become a leader.
“This guy has come so far just as a person. You look at the season and everything that goes into it and how these kids grow up and this guy has turned into a man.”
The Rebels led by eight early on and had opportunities to extend their cushion, but Fairview’s Brennan Maddox poured in 14 of his team-high 21 points in the first half to help the Panthers get within two (28-26) at the break.
The Rebels came out in the second half and stepped up the pace. Primeaux hit a pair of free throws and drove the lane for two buckets early in the third quarter while Darren Arceneaux, Jake Gautreaux and Devin Gautreaux each hit shots in the paint to extend the lead to 41-32 with 4:23 remaining in the frame.
But the Panthers (31-6) had an answer, closing within two again.
Hunter Dowies scored eight points down the stretch to spark an 11-4 run and cut the lead to 45-43 at the end of three.
“I thought at halftime we really had a chance,” said FHS coach Ron Stark. “We wanted to get more into an up-tempo type of game with them because they are a good defensive team and once they get a lead on you, they start to milk that clock, so we just tried to speed the game up.”
In the fourth quarter, however, it was the Rebels that forced the issue with quick buckets by Jake Gautreaux and Arceneaux.
Before anyone could blink, the Rebels had a 10-point advantage.
From there, they just wore the Panthers down in the final minutes and held them to just two field goals down the stretch.
“I think we started to tire a bit there in the fourth quarter,” said Stark after  watching his team make just three of their 15 shots from the floor in the final eight minutes. “You could see that shots stop falling. Brennan (Maddox) had taken a knee to the thigh and then he started cramping up there towards the end.
“And Grant (Dowies), the way he shoots, I could tell (he was fatigued) because his shots started falling a little bit short.”
Arceneaux rounded out his prep career with the Rebels with six points and seven rebounds while junior Traven Guidry and sophomore Devin Gautreaux each had six points as well. Guidry also logged eight rebounds and three steals while Gautreaux had three rebounds and two assists. Senior Nick Primeaux rounded out the offense with two points.
Maddox, who also had 15 rebounds, was the lone scorer in double figures for the Panthers. Grant Dowies added nine points, Hunter Dowies pitched in eight, Jacob Stark had seven and Payton Gordon had six.
  For Todd Briley, the victory came in his final game as the Rebels’ head coach. He will move on next fall into administration at the school.
“I couldn’t ask for a better way to go out,” he said. “We fought hard tonight and I couldn’t be prouder of these guys. I mean, how many people get to say they won their last game?”

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