The only thing missing from Marco Island Academy’s thrilling 80-69 win over Donahue Catholic for the Paradise Coast Athletic Conference championship was confetti dropping from the ceiling.
The Marco Middle School gym was at a fever pitch from the beginning of the game until the celebration finally ended Friday night. The sound system was blaring We Are The Champions by Queen, and players, cheerleaders, parents, fans and coaches flooded the gymnasium floor for an extended celebration.
“I said we’d have to keep them under 70 points to win—and they did it,” an elated Coach Travis Barry said amid the celebration. “We played tight in the first half. It was a little bit tight shooting. But I knew we were going to win it with defense. And they came out in the second half and started passing the ball better. Playing unselfish ball. They came out in the third quarter and they were willing it to happen. I was proud of them”
Donahue Catholic arguably looked like the better team in the first half and held a 33-28 halftime lead.
The Rays came out strong in the third quarter, outscoring the Shamrocks 23-15, paced by senior Dominic Moller’s 9 points. But Moller sustained a hip injury late in the quarter, and despite several attempts, was unable to contribute the rest of the way. Moller, a 1,000-point career scorer, left the game with 20 points and had to count on his teammates to bring the win home.
The Rays were already without their leading scorer, Kevin Barry, the Coach’s son, who averaged 29 points a game before suffering a fracture to his fibula in January.
Scrappy guard Johnny Watt went wild in the fourth quarter for the Rays, scoring 17 of his game-high 27 points—mostly on aggressive drives to the basket.
“I thought Johnny Watt and Kyler Howard played fantastic,” Travis Barry said. “I thought Dom Moller did. Unfortunately, he got a hip pointer in the third quarter. He tried to play but he couldn’t play. The same thing happened to their big man. He played great in the first half for them.
Quentin Fairchild scored all 17 of his points for Donahue Catholic before he too left with a hip injury in the third quarter. Joey Klucik also scored 17 for the Shamrocks.
Kyler Howard, who plays quarterback for the Rays’ football team, has changed his role on the team since Kevin Barry went down with his injury.
“It’s funny,” said Coach Barry, “we pulled him out of the center and put him at almost a point guard position. He throws the ball very well—obviously he’s a quarterback. There was a key play in the fourth quarter when they started coming back. We called a timeout and drew up kind of a roll to the basket. Kyler went hard to the basket. Everybody covered him and he dropped it to Johnny (Watt) for a layup. That was one of my favorite plays of the game. That was nice.”
Quintin Fitton scored 13 for the Rays and played one of his best games. Howard added 11 for Marco. Sophomores Joseph Reisinger and Nick Smithem each contributed 5 points for MIA.
The win wraps up a very successful 16-7 season for the Rays. It also adds a meaningful conference championship trophy to their trophy case. Donahue Catholic finishes at 8-11.