Thrills have been hard to find for the Marco Island Academy’s young basketball team and their supporters this season. That fact made their 79-44 running-clock win over The Imagine Schools North Port on Tuesday, February 5 at the Marco gym that much sweeter.
“It felt really good,” MIA head coach Travis Barry said after the game. “We really played higher than we’ve ever played. The energy was just very positive. We have a young team, so I can build all year, all next year and the year after that.”
The team, fans, parents and students were all jubilant after watching their Rays dominate a team that had beaten them by seven points just a month earlier.
“This team (Imagine) beat us in the pre-season and they whipped us up at their school,” Barry said.
Sophomores Kevin Barry (27) and Johnny Watt (21) led the Rays in scoring against Imagine. Junior Dominic Moller, who has been sidelined most of the season with an ankle injury, scored 14. Freshman Quintin added eight points.
The 4-19 Rays fielded a team comprised of three juniors, three sophomores and four freshmen.
“We’ve been starting a lot of freshmen and sophomores,” Barry said, “We’ve only got a couple of juniors on the team. No seniors. To play them all on our varsity team has been tough.”
Consequently, the academy has taken their lumps against many of the bigger, more experienced teams they’ve faced this season. They’ve been on the wrong end of a number of games that ended with a running clock.
“That’s the first time we’ve ever had a running clock,” Barry said with a smile.
“But I think those games against those 3A games that are way above us our making our players improve. They’re making us faster. The competition we’ve played all season changed us big time. This was our last home game tonight. This is a whole different team tonight from what we saw at the beginning of the season. And that’s because we’re young.”
When Barry looks over his baby-faced roster, he sees better things in the future.
“I see nothing but up,” he said. “I see energy. I never have one argument in practice. It’s a solid unit. If someone asked me who is the MVP of this team, I can’t pick it. I won’t pick it. I’ll never pick it.”
Kevin Barry leads the Rays with 23 points per game. Watt is the team’s second-leading scorer and leading rebounder.
“I just have a solid group of kids that are friends on and off the court. They do everything together. They all are three sport athletes. We only play at the park. We don’t have our own gym. We have to lease this gym. We’re hoping to start building a new gym in June.”