Boys basketball: Marco Island captures first-ever district title

Marco Island's Cole Stretton tries to hold on to the ball against Seacrest, Wednesday, Feb. 5th, at Everglades City High School. (Logan Newell/Staff)

Marco Island's Cole Stretton tries to hold on to the ball against Seacrest, Wednesday, Feb. 5th, at Everglades City High School. (Logan Newell/Staff)

— The Marco Island Academy boys basketball team made history Wednesday night.

The Manta Rays thrashed Seacrest Country Day 74-35 in the District 2A-10 title game, giving Marco Island its first-ever district crown in any sport.

“Two of our juniors went through, when they were freshmen, unbelievable seasons where they were getting beat by 60 and 70 points,” Marco coach Roger Raymond said as he reminisced on past struggles. “Now they’re juniors. They’ve kind of gotten use to seeing the good side, as opposed to being where they were.”

Marco jumped out to an early 10-1 run five minutes into the first quarter and never looked back.

Seacrest was shell-shocked.

They couldn’t rebound. Shots weren’t getting off at all. Turnovers plagued them at every turn. Their first field goal didn’t come until one minute remained in the first quarter.

Seacrest tried to make it a game in the second quarter. Matthew DiNorcia’s layup cut the Seacrest deficit to four and they seemed to be surging.

There was just too much Brandon Estremera to deal with.

Estremera tallied a game-leading 22 points and hit a plethora of threes to keep the lead in the double-digits. Cole Stretton was just below him with 21 points. Estremera spoke about the message to the team in the locker room at the half. Hustle and finishing strong was the main focus. With a home regional playoff game against the loser of Friday's District 2A-9 title game between Southwest Florida Christian and Sarasota Christian on the horizon, it’s going to take more than just hustle to put away their opponent.

“The team that we’re going up against will be at the top of their game,” Estremera said. “We can’t back down at all. We've got to be able to shoot well and play good defense.”

Stretton was just as excited about entering the history books as he was about becoming a champion. Seeing the fan bus pull up for what he called “our first big game” gave the team a hidden energy. All they’re looking for is the energy to carry over into next week. There’s still history to be made for Stretton and the Rays.

“We just need to do what we did tonight,” Stretton said. “We need to have the same intensity and never quit. Got to double team everything and work as a team.”

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