The Mustangs shut down Lakewood’s scoring threats to win 54-36 in the first game of the Class AAA state playoffs Thursday night.
No. 2 seed Midland Valley will play at Orangeburg-Wilkinson on Saturday.
Midland Valley allowed its third-lowest point total this season while holding Lakewood to single digits in two quarters. Daniel Carr said the difference was an increase in intensity on the defensive side.
“Our main focus was playing defense like we did in the first half of the season,” said Carr, who had 11 points. “We hadn’t played with as much intensity lately, and we needed to get it back.”
Midland Valley slowed down its offensive game to allow its defense better opportunities to set up on missed shots.
It also gave the Mustangs’ offense the chance to find better shots, resulting in three scorers in double figures.
“We’ve been stealing so much lately it got to the point where we were gambling and getting out of position,” coach Mark Snelgrove said. “We rushed shots and it affected the defense. We made the effort to slow down, and we had better shots.”
Midland Valley’s Devon Young recorded 13 points and Kameron Brown added 12. Eight Mustangs contributed to the scoring.
The first quarter was close, but Midland Valley broke through by holding Lakewood to six points in the second. The Mustangs had a 25-16 lead at halftime.
Midland Valley saw its lead grow throughout the second half, reaching an advantage as large as 18.
The Gators failed to have a double-digit scorer, as Jarvis Johnson led with nine points. Jalen White added seven.
“We feel good right now, but we’re not satisfied,” Carr said. “We’re hungry. We want to win state and bring a state championship banner to this gym.”