Rebels set for semifinal showdown
Midland’s Devin Gautreaux goes up for a shot in a recent game. The Rebels will take on Anacoco tonight at 6:15 p.m. in a Class B semifinal contest at Burton Colliseum in Lake Charles. (Photo by J.C. Webb)
MIDLAND – For Todd Briley, tonight will be a homecoming of sorts when his Midland Rebels take on Anacoco in a 6:15 p.m. Class B semifinal contest at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles.
That is the place Briley called home for four years during his college career at McNeese State University from 1995-1999.
There is, however, no time to reminisce about the old days.
“I have spent many days in Burton and it’s good to go back but to be honest with you, we’re just trying to focus on the game,” said Briley, who will be coaching in his third Top 28 during his 14-year career at his alma mater. “I’m sure there will be a lot of people that I haven’t seen since college that I will run into so that will be nice. But I’m not too concerned about the venue. We just have to be ready.”
What his team will have to be ready for is a very solid Anacoco team that has averaged just over 73 points per game during the playoffs.
The No. 3 seeded Indians knocked off No. 30 Pitkin in the opener, 77-52, and defeated No. 14 Doyline in the regional round, 66-59. They then punched their ticket to the Top 28 with a 78-62 victory over Simsboro, a team that knocked Midland out of the playoffs last season in the quarterfinals.
“Anacoco is very fundamental and they have some quickness,” said Briley of the 29-5 Indians. “They’re just a good all-around basketball team. They are well disciplined and they do things the right way.
“They are a team that if you are not ready to play and ready to get with it, they will be hard to beat.”
The Indians are led by a trio of guards that each scored in double figures in their quarterfinal victory. Will Reese poured in 23 points in that game while Brett Phillips and Jason Ortiz each scored 19. Sam Turnipseed also hit double figures with 13 points.
“They have three really good players and their role players are pretty good too,” said Briley. “They distribute the ball well and when they get a guy an open look, they shoot a high percentage.
“They shoot the ball and they can hit it so we’re going to have to close out on shooters and guard them. But I feel like we guard pretty well. I know they’re good but we’re going to get after them and try to stop them.”
The Indians also have their work cut out for them as well with the Rebels.
Briley’s team has lost just three games on the year and has won 14 of their last 15 with that loss coming to Lacassine on Jan. 17.
“I feel like we’re getting better with every game lately so that’s a good thing,” said Briley. “I feel like we guard well and we can bring some pressure; we are pretty good ball handlers and we have shooters and overall, we have pretty good team speed. Losing (Alan) Vondenstein last year, we’re not as good as we were last year with our post presence but we’re not bad. We have a lot of strengths.”
The Rebels are led by senior Jake Gautreaux, who averages just over 17 points per game. Darren “Doobie” Arceneaux, follows with just over 14 points per outing while Devin Gautreaux averages 12. Randy Primeaux pitches in nine points per game while Nick Primeaux averages five.
Nick Primeaux is known more for his defensive effort but in the quarterfinals, he broke loose for 17 points to help lead the Rebels to victory.
“Nick did well,” said Briley. “He was in the right spot and that can happen again. Randy, Devin and Jake do shot the ball well outside but we’re developing another weapon because we’re starting to attack off the dribble more and that’s what helped Nick. His guy stepped up to help and he was ready when they did to catch the little dish pass and stick them in the hole.”
Arceneaux has also played a huge role in the Rebels’ success and Briley hopes that will continue tonight.
“We’ve had to put Doobie under the goal more so this year than last year,” said Briley. “Last year I had him out on the perimeter more playing a guard spot but now I’ve had to move him because he’s the biggest guy we have.
“He’s more comfortable on the perimeter, in the mid range but he’s deadly. If we can get him in the high post some, he’s going to kill them because he can do damage there. If he can catch it and just rise up, that’s like a layup for him.”