MIDLAND – When it comes to conditioning, there’s no team better than the Midland Rebels.
And Friday, the Lacassine Cardinals learned why.
Meeting for the fourth time this season, the two District 7-B rivals found themselves locked in a titanic struggle that appeared headed for a dramatic finish.
But in the end, it was Midland’s conditioning and perseverance that won the day - or in this case, the game.
The Rebels, led offensively by Alan Vondenstein and Darren Arceneaux and sparked late by the aggressive play of Stephen Primeaux, broke open a tight game by outscoring the Cardinals 12-5 in the final eight minutes to slip away with a hard-earned 41-35 victory over the visiting Cardinals.
The victory was Midland’s third straight over Lacassine and it sends them to the Class B quarterfinals on Monday where they will face No. 3 Simsboro on the road. Tipoff for that game is slated for 6:30 p.m.
“I think what really saved us tonight was all the work we have done prior to the season,” said Midland coach Todd Briley. “All the tough stuff...pushing trucks and running in sand...all the crazy stuff we do. When you get in tough spots like this, we fall back on that. If we can get through that stuff, we can get through this.
“I think putting the kids through some adversity and some hard stuff prepares them for that; when they get in a tough spot they don’t freak out. They’ll rise to the challenge. And our guys rose to the challenge tonight.”
Midland’s defense provided the catalyst in the victory by forcing 14 turnovers on the night, including six in the final minutes.
“Our defense really bailed us out, especially in the fourth quarter,” said Briley. “We stepped it up, we stepped up the intensity and made some plays and we found a way to get it done.”
Midland entered the final frame trailing by one (30-29) and they fell behind by three (34-31) after Lacassine’s Andrew Ardoin dropped in a jumper from the top of the key.
But Vondenstein answered with a bucket of his own at the 5:20 mark to lead the Rebels on a 10-1 run to finish the game.
Arceneaux added six of his 12 points in the final four minutes on baskets in the paint to lead the rally.
Vondenstein and Arceneaux carried the bulk of the load for most of the contest, one in which the Rebels went cold from the outside.
The duo combined for 27 points, 14 rebounds and five steals.
“Allen and Darren both had a good night tonight,” said Briley. “When we got them the ball inside, they did a good job. They were working in there, they wanted the ball and they finished.
“We just didn’t get them the ball enough.”
Primeaux also provided a much-needed lift in the fourth quarter despite scoring just two points. The senior guard picked up two crucial steals in the final minutes and grabbed two offensive rebounds that resulted in points.
“Stephen didn’t play a lot tonight, but when he did, he gave us a spark,” said Briley. “He was a little wild out there, but he made things happen. He made some hustle plays, he got some big rebounds. He did some things, I’m not quite sure what they were, but it looked like he energized us a little bit.”
Midland’s perimeter game, usually one of its strengths, was absent for most of the night.
The Rebels hit just two of their 15 3-point attempts, both from Jake Gautreaux in the second quarter.
“We just didn’t shoot the ball well tonight,” said Briley. “We got good looks, but we just could not put them in. We really struggled offensively all night.”
Vondestein led the Rebels with 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals while Arceneaux had 12 points, seven rebounds and two steals.
Jake Gautreaux added six points and Randy Primeaux had four points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals.
Devin Gautreaux and Stephen Primeaux rounded out the Rebels’ offense with two points each.
Ardoin paced the Cardinals with 10 points. Anthony Broxton and Alan Courville each added six points and Hayden Cooley scored five. Joshua and Jonathan Wykoff each finished with two points.
MIDLAND – The Midland Lady Rebels picked the most inopportune time to have their worst shooting performance of the season.
The Lady Rebels shot just 37 percent from the floor, including a 0-for-21 performance from beyond the arch, and hit just four of their 11 free throw attempts in a 51-24 loss to District 7-B rival Hathaway Thursday evening.
The Class B regional playoff victory sent the Lady Hornets to the quarterfinal round where they will play host to Rapides on Monday.
Midland finished the season with an overall record of 17-20.
Midland kept the game close early and trailed by just one (14-12) midway through the second quarter.
But Hathaway began to pull away from there, going on a 7-0 run to end the half.
The Lady Hornets put the game out of reach in the third quarter, outscoring the Lady Rebels 18-2.
Kristen Breaux paced the Lady Rebels with 14 points. Bethany LeJeune followed with four points and Melody Hebert, Brooke Comeaux and Nicole Kraut each scored two.