In a breathtaking finish, the Marco Island Charter Middle School boys basketball team exhaled to edge Manatee in a raucous overtime win on Saturday.
The Collier County Public Schools Conference game was a battle from the start, with both teams having come backs throughout the game, before the Eagles pulled out a 44-39 victory.
In a much easier game, the Lady Eagles downed Manatee, 30-10.
The Charter boys got off to a rocky start against Manatee, which had size and played a physical brand of basketball.
Charter coach Roger Raymond pulled his starters midway through the first quarter as Manatee jumped to a 9-1 lead. Dane Ussery came off the bench, providing some physical play himself, in scoring six points to help reduce the gap to 11-8 after one quarter.
The Eagles starters returned two minutes into the second quarter, rallying to tie the game at 13 and an eventual 18-18 tie at halftime. One of Manatee’s big men, Andrew Baptiste scored six points to lead his team.
A smothering Eagles defense led to Manatee turnovers, with Cole Stretton sparking his team as it went into the final quarter with a 28-23 lead, helped greatly by Manatee players who couldn’t make foul shots.
The fourth quarter turned into mayhem, mostly caused by one of the referees who became overzealous in his role, which left both coaches scratching their heads and asking for explanations.
Manatee scratched out a lead, but the Eagles came back, tying the game at 37, sending the contest into overtime. Again missed foul shots cost Manatee.
Stretton hit a 3-point shot, then a Stretton steal and a basket by Trevor Dye gave the Eagles a four-point lead. But the referee called a technical foul on Dye for hanging onto the rim after his basket. Dye grabbed the rim as a result of a Manatee player fouling him as he went up for the basket. It was Dye’s second technical, which took him out of the game with 16 seconds left in overtime and Charter holding a 43-39 lead.
Unfortunately, for Manatee they missed both foul shots, but got the ball out due to the technical. Manatee missed three 3-point shots and Charter’s Patrick Michel sank a foul shot to bring the final score, 44-39.
Stretton led the Eagles in scoring with three 3-point baskets on his way to 16 points and Michel added 14.
Raymond said the decisive part of the game was actually at the beginning. He and assistant coach Mike said Ussery was the key by coming into the game, scoring his six points and helping to control the boards.
In the girls game the Lady Eagles won without their star offensive threat Ariana Garousi, still suffering from a knee injury, and McKenna Lampos who is strong on defense and on the boards.
Tamar Fradeus scored eight second-half points to help pull the Eagles away from Manatee. Kalani Siler scored 6, Shannon O’Regan 4, April Alvarado, 3 and Jaryn Pellant, Ashton Greusel, Jamy Spencer and Vanessa Torres, 1 each. Minerva Racero and Kim Blanchette contributed to the team’s solid defense.
Coach Mike Lampos credited assistant coach Wendy Pellant, saying, “coach Pellant’s enthusiastic bench coaching is starting to sink in with the girls.”
The win snapped a four-game losing streak to even the Lady Eagles record at 6-6. They host Community Christian of Port Charlotte today in the first round of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament at 4:30 p.m. On Wednesday the girls play Village School of Naples. The girls are at 4:15 p.m.
The boys, No. 1 seed in the GCAC tourney, will host the winner of First Baptist Academy and Community School of Naples at 5:45 p.m. Should the girls win today they will be on the road on Thursday, playing at Southwest Florida Christian Academy at 5 p.m.