Like the high school it represents, the Marco Island Academy basketball program could still be considered in its fledgling years even after 10 years of varsity competition. So, when the Class 2A Rays raced to a 27-point halftime lead over Class 5A Cypress Lake Friday at the Marco gym, it was significant.
Rays head coach Travis Barry employed a full court press from the opening tip, and it appeared to rattle the Panthers, whose turnovers led to easy baskets for the Rays. The Panthers also appeared fatigued by the Rays’ relentless pressure. When the final seconds ticked off the clock the Rays found themselves 88-73 winners.
“Marco Island played tremendously well,” Cypress Lake head coach John Solak said. “I’m proud of my guys for fighting back in the second half. We ran out of steam against a team that is very well coached and very well organized and in tremendous physical shape. The fact that their kids can make a trap and get to the second trap before we can capitalize on a two-on-one, that was a huge difference in the first half.”
“They did good,” Travis Barry said of his team. “They played unbridled. I told them, ‘If you’re having fun, and you know your position, go for it. We’ve lost before, and I’m not afraid to lose tonight. So, let’s get it done.’”
“They came out with energy like I’ve never seen before. We went up by like 23 points in the first quarter and from that point they were just rattled.”
Barry was proud of how his team executed their full court trapping press.
“Tony (Castillo) and Joe (Reisinger) are doing a great job in the second level,” Barry said. “Kevin (Barry) and Johnny (Watt) are really tall up front and make it difficult and force a pass that Joe and Tony can easily get. Joe got a couple of beautiful ones. Tony got his hands on a couple of them, too. But the hard thing about our press is that we don’t just play it on a made basket, if we’re in it, we’re in it all the time. The full court press falls back into the half court press, so it doesn’t end. And most coaches think we’re going to press on a made bucket, but we press all the time, unless I call it off. I think that’s what rattled them a little bit. Our boys did a good job.”
MIA’s dynamic duo of Johnny Watt and Kevin Barry clicked from the start. Barry led all scorers with 37 points and Watt scored 28.
“I’ve been waiting for Johnny and Kevin to break out,” Barry said, “and I knew that they would soon. And I figured it would happen at a home game.”
The Rays improve to 12-5 and Cypress Lake falls to 5-10. The Rays travel to Bonita Springs on Friday and conclude their regular season Saturday with a home game against Oasis.
Solak was upbeat despite his team’s defeat.
“We look forward to the challenge of playing them again next year,” he said.