The Class 2A-District 10 boys basketball semifinal contests couldn't have been more different.
On one side of the spectrum, Marco Island completely dominated Ahfachkee 80-32. Meanwhile, Seacrest Country Day had to scratch and claw its way to the district title game, rallying for a 49-46 win over tournament host Everglades City.
Marco never took their foot off the pedal and proved their size was too much to handle. The Stingrays led 40-16 at the half and didn’t let up. Officials started the running clock midway through the third quarter.
Despite mimicking high school basketball’s version of Super Bowl XLVIII, coach Roger Raymond said the Manta Rays could have given a better showing. Marco’s Cole Stretton led all scorers with 24 points and four triples on the night. Preston Reese followed with 16 of his own. Ahfachkee’s Jonah and Issiah Alvarado combined for 23 points.
Marco will have to dig deep to stop a Seacrest team who stormed back from a 10-point halftime deficit.
Everglades City commanded the game early. Their physicality and energy level gave the Gators a 13-3 run to start the game. The Gators drew charges, contested shots and blocked everything they could get their fingertips to.
However, Seacrest’s Aiden Hancock said they owed this Everglades squad a loss sooner, rather than later.
“It’s a great win because we’re working as a team and we’re finally getting ourselves together,” Hancock said. “We hadn’t beaten this team yet, so today was our good win.”
Seacrest outscored the Gators by eight in the third and sucked the life out of their crowd. The Stingrays took their first lead midway through the fourth. Seacrest’s fan section, though just a fraction of the Everglades gym, was surging.
Everglades’ Colman Strickland forced a layup to fall while getting fouled to cut the Seacrest lead to one with five seconds left. Stingray point guard Ming Lee iced two free throws of his own to bring the lead to three with three seconds left. Trevyr Daniels’ desperation three fell short.
Two sets of rays will square off in the Everglades on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. for the district title. Seacrest has revenge on their minds since Marco beat them 62-44 on their home floor last month.
Coach Raymond is indifferent about the game site. He's ready to go to work.
“We like beating them on their home court, but it doesn’t matter,” Raymond said. “We've got to beat them wherever we play them.”