Maybe it’s the snazzy sport coat with a basketball rim on the breast that coach Zeb Reid has been wearing during the past couple of games.
Maybe it’s that instead of pacing back and forth during the game, Reid sits calmly between his assistants, occasionally standing up just long enough to instruct his kids before sitting back down.
Or maybe, just maybe, this team is finally growing up.
For years, the buzzword around the Rebels’ program has been “young,” and there have been youthful moments throughout this season. Mid-Carolina has been competitive in every region game it’s played this year, but saw opportunity after opportunity slip away in the fourth quarter.
The most painful of those missed chances was on Jan. 23 in front of the biggest crowd to watch a game in the brand-new school.
The stands were overflowing, the Rebels were raining threes, and the partisan Mid-Carolina crowd was going bananas as it saw its team lead by 10 in the fourth quarter against Newberry.
If Reid’s Rebels were able to just hold on, the win would undoubtedly have been the biggest in his time at Mid-Carolina, and could possibly have signaled the start of a culture change for a program that had been a mainstay at the bottom of the region standings for years. His athletic director, head football coach Louie Alexander, could tell him all about how big that first win against Newberry could be.
But instead of closing the deal and winning the first game against Newberry in who-knows-when, the Bulldogs roared back and broke the hearts of the Mid-Carolina faithful.
But that was several weeks ago, and the team has moved on...it’s not like Reid ever brings it up, right?
“We’ve seen that tape many, many times since that game,” Reid said. “I think our kids have a chip on their shoulders because they feel like (Newberry) stole one from us, and they did.”
Mid-Carolina will get its chance for redemption tomorrow night in the ‘Dog House.
For the first time in years, this regular season finale will have something on the line for both teams.
Neither team is assured of a playoff spot heading into the game—and how much of a sting do you think it would be to have your season come to an end against your biggest rival?
For Newberry, there’s no question it needed something good to happen after dropping three consecutive Region III-2A games. It got that by knocking off Batesburg-Leesville in overtime last night.
With both teams heading into this game with momentum, it should be just as good as the first go-round. It’s got that perfect storm feel to it.
The ‘Dogs have been terribly inconsistent all season, but have the talent to play a brilliant game when it matters most. The Mid-Carolina players will be stepping on the floor for the biggest game in a Rebel uniform—and know without a shadow of a doubt that for three quarters they were the better team a month ago. Can they find a way to do it again, but add eight more minutes?
Or will the outcome be just like it’s seemingly always been—with Newberry finding a way to win, because, frankly that’s just what it does?
I would suggest getting to the gym early.