Marco Island Academy fought St. John Neumann neck-and-neck for much of three quarters, but in the end, the Rays just couldn’t turn the tide against the home–standing Celtics, falling 81-70 Thursday night.
It boiled down to MIA missing their leading scorer against a Neumann team with an unstoppable player.
Kevin Barry, MIA’s leading scorer with a 29 points-per-game average, is out for the season. Barry has suffered a hairline fracture of the fibula.
For Neumann, Matt Bennett, often looking like a contortionist, drove to the basket time-after-time for acrobatic scores. Bennett ended up with 27 points in a commanding all-around performance.
Without Barry, the Rays spread the ball around and found productive scoring throughout the lineup. Johnny Watt led the Rays with 24 points and played with flat-out hustle the whole way. Long–range threat Dom Moller and steady forward Kyler Howard were also offensive threats, each scoring 19 points.
Neumann managed to keep the Rays at arm’s length for much of the first three quarters, never allowing the visitor to get any closer than 6-8 points.
Neumann went on a roll midway through the third quarter, stretching their lead to 15 points. The Rays fought back and narrowed the lead to 78-71 late in the game. However, Neumann extinguished the Rays run with a final two-pointer.
MIA Head Coach Travis Barry was happy with his team’s effort. The loss moves the Rays season record to 13-5. Neumann improves to 6-13.
“I thought our guys played really tough,” Barry stated, “really hard, against a more mature team. We have a young team and we’re up and coming. I thought they made a great comeback.”