It was only a season ago that Marco Island Academy’s girls’ basketball team, with four converted cheerleaders on their roster, were working hard at learning how to dribble a basketball.
A year later those girls, the Sweeney and Snover twins, dribble with confidence. And the MIA girls’ basketball team has lost only twice in twelve starts. They’ve even added another set of twins—the Reisinger twins, Emily and Katelin—who are being seasoned by the elder twins.
Head Coach Travis Barry, who also coaches the MIA boys’ team, wasn’t sure how his girls would fare when they visited Seacrest (11-3) on Saturday. He found out his girls were up for the challenge as they blitzed their highly touted hosts by a convincing 47-33 score.
“Our ladies played great,” Travis Barry said. “Megan Sweeney had 20 rebounds today. Kathryn (Barry) was killing three pointers. When those two are on, and Bridget Sweeney is playing really good defense (Bridget is my defensive stopper) it’s pretty hard to beat our team right now. We’ve got three keys tools: we’ve got a rebounder, we’ve got a defensive stopper and we’ve got a shooter. As long as Kathryn keeps knocking down shots it’s going to be hard to stop us because the other team only gets one shot every time.”
Kathryn Barry is the coach’s daughter. She’s just a sophomore but she has become a deadly three-point shooter. At Seacrest she played against a tough senior opponent and came away with six three-pointers on 12 attempts, and ended up with 20 points overall. She’s hit 41 three-pointers so far this season.
Barry remembers how shaky his squad was heading into last season.
“We had a lot of girls who wouldn’t dribble the ball last year,” he recalls. “And now they’re all doing very well offensively.”
Like last year when they were learning to dribble. Barry’s squad worked hard to advance their skills this summer, despite the restrictions brought about by the COVID pandemic.
“We played at least two days a week all summer,” he said. They scrimmaged each other. We didn’t play in any camps because of COVID, so I was a little worried about that.”
The girls also improved by playing against assistant coach Jim Watt’s eighth grade team.
“Jim’s youngest son is an eighth-grader,” Barry said. “He’d come to practice because I have nine girls. We played all summer. We played against the eighth grade boys a lot. That really made ‘em good because the eighth grade boys are really quick to the ball. So it made our girls much more aggressive than last year. We have two seniors, the Sweeney twins, Megan and Bridget. That’s going to be a big loss. Megan’s averaging almost 20 rebounds a game. She’s strong.”
Barry cited his team’s recent 49-38 win over a tough Gateway Charter team as a rite of passage for his team.
“In our win over Gateway they really showed what they can do,” Barry said. “It’s kind of a hostile environment. They really went up there and took care of business. They usually play very aggressive. It’s a very physical game.”
MIA hosts Cypress Lake on Friday. Barry figures his squad will have home court advantage during the upcoming Paradise Coast Athletic Conference Tournament, after traveling to Donahue Catholic last season.