He believes better things lie ahead for this team that has just one senior. He also believes that the things he wants most for this team they have already achieved.
“Unfortunately, there’s not a story now,” Barry said following the loss to Seacrest, a middle-of-the-pack team in the eight team District 8 that MIA competes in. “We’re hoping there’s going to be a story in a year or two. I want to make sure by the end of the season they all love the game and they love each other.”Seacrest, 10-4 overall and 3-4 in-district, jumped off to an early 26-9 first quarter lead and were never seriously challenged.
“I thought we kind of got blown out in the first quarter then we played with them for the rest of the game,” Barry said. “We’re playing a lot of more experienced teams and so we’re starting to try to build something young.”
The Rays, 4-12 overall and 0-7 in-district, have a starting lineup comprised of three freshmen, a sophomore and a senior. There’s not a lot of firepower in reserve.
“I had seven kids come out for the basketball program,” Barry said. “Since then I’ve gotten a couple more. It’s tough at a small school when you have seven kids come out for the team. But we’ve come leaps and bounds from the first games. We have four ninthgraders on the team and I’m trying to get them to just play tougher, stronger defense. And I thought that we did that.”Barry, who had success coaching at Marco Island Charter Middle School, has several of his middle school players as freshmen on this year’s Rays team. He’s coached them since they were in sixth grade. He feels those players—and the rest of the squad—are showing that they love the game and love each other. “To love the game,” Barry said, “you have to play it the right way. And we’re still learning to play the game the right way. We’re practicing as much as we can. If we can’t get in this gym we’re going to the Y. The Y’s been very helpful to us. We’re trying to practice all the time we get. Even when we don’t have practices, they’re having shooting practices. They love basketball. I asked them what they want to do tomorrow night. They said, ‘we want to go to the FGCU game.’ So we’re all going up to the FGCU game.”
The leading scorer for the Rays was Barry’s son, freshman Kevin Barry, who finished with 21 points, including four three-pointers. Fellow-freshman Johnny Watt scored 13, sophomore Dominic Moller 12, on four three-pointers. Senior Brenden Howard, who at 6’4” is the team’s lone big man, scored 10 points.The Rays will travel to Evangelical Christian (1/19) and Moore Haven (1/23) before returning home for a 7:30 PM start against Oasis Charter on Thursday, January 25.