The Marco Island Rays had their hands full against Imagine School at North Port team Friday night at the Marco Middle School gym. The final score, 77-62, tells only part of the story of a game that was tight through three hard-fought quarters.
The Rays led only 15-14 over the Sharks, who have only one win on the season. Things got worse as the home team went into the locker room at halftime behind, 34-32.
The Rays, 7-1, coming off of their only loss of the season, an 81-56 setback at Gateway Charter on December 16, had trouble getting started against a team their coach felt was outmanned.
“Usually we play that team much tougher,” Marco head coach Travis Barry said. “We couldn’t get in sync.”
The academy finally pulled ahead, 39-38, with 5:06 left in the third quarter on a bucket from the right sideline by junior Kyler Howard. Kevin Barry, the coach’s son, scored seconds later after stealing the ball and driving in for a lay-up to put the Rays up 41-38.
Joe Reisinger took a charge on the other end and the Rays were suddenly on a nine-point run. Coach Barry singled out the sophomore for his heady play.
“Joey drew a key charge,” Barry said. “I mean that was a really important charge for us. He gave us a lot of great rebounding and effort. Lot of great boxing out. I was really happy to see him have a great game like that. He’s a very intelligent basketball player. He sees the court well and he boxes out very well. So Joe’s going to see a lot of time for us.”
Imagine School answered the Rays run and had whittled the lead to 49-44 with a 1:08 left in the third quarter. But the Rays went on another run, keyed by Johnny Watt, a team leader who was in the line-up for the first time after suffering a hand injury prior to the start of the season. Watt, Quintin Fitton, and Barry all scored in the final minute of the third quarter—a run that seemed to break the Sharks.
In the fourth quarter Dom Moller, the Rays only senior, broke out of a scoring drought in a big way when he began to drive to the basket. Time-after-time Moller, who is known for his long-range bombs, converted lay-ups to put the game out of reach. Moller ended up with 11 points—eight of them on the fourth-quarter drives to the basket.
“I thought Dom saw the lane to the basket—they were covering him out high—he just went to the basket and got a couple of key lay-ups,” coach Barry said. “He just strolled right past them and laid them in.”
Kevin Barry was once again the scoring leader for the Rays, connecting for 25 points—including 7-8 from the line. The Sharks were successful in closing down Barry’s 3-point game.
“They were playing a triangle and two most of the night on Kevin,” coach Barry said. “It was hard for him to get loose to get anything. I told them to make them come out of that triangle. When they did Dom was just wide open.”
Watt scored 20 points, including a 3-pointer. His floor leadership was also a key to the Rays win. Kyler Howard was the fourth Ray in double figures with 13.
Up next for the Rays is the D5 Alive Holiday Tournament in Vero Beach on December 26-28.