Marco Academy boys face Sarasota in regional game Thursday

SCOTT H. SHOOK
acenturyofheroes@yahoo.com
The Academy faces Sarasota Thursday night at Marco gym.

After defeating Seacrest in the district game last week, the Marco Island Academy Rays face Sarasota Christian in regional playoffs at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Marco gym.

Marco is 16-6, Sarasota Christian is 17-8.

One thing Rays head coach Roger Raymond knows, their opponent will be strong.

"We have a tough road ahead of us," Raymond said. "Southwest Florida Christian Academy is a great team and so is Sarasota Christian—they beat Lehigh and Lehigh has only lost one game. Whoever comes in here knows how to play the game. It's Thursday."

After a tight, back and forth first half lat week, the Marco Island Academy turned up the pressure in the second half to run away in the district title game, 71-57 over Seacrest last week in the Marco gym.

Seacrest held leads of 14-11 and 22-21 in the first half before ending the half down 34-30.

Sophomore Tyler Gresham was a strong presence underneath and hit a pair of corner threes and ended up with 11 first half points for the Rays.

"Tyler Gresham kept us in the game the first half," said Raymond.

Captain Cole Stretton also tallied 11 first half points.

In the second half the Rays came out with pressure on their young opponents and took away their inside game.

"We packed in in the second half and let them try to beat us from outside and they didn't," Raymond said.

"Marco's a tough team," said Seacrest coach Curtis Hancock. "They gave us a little trouble coming out of halftime. We got a little bit of pressure and we panicked. Coach Raymond did a great job of getting them out and pressuring us at the beginning of the second half."

The Rays took advantage of their rattled opponents and rang up a 21-10 advantage in the third quarter to blow the game open.

With six minutes left in the third quarter Brandon Estremera hit back-to-back three-pointers to stretch the lead to 42-32 and a tight game turned into a route.

Streton finished with triple double, 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, and also came away with seven steals.

"Cole is one of the best players in the county," Raymond said, "there's no doubt about that. His triple double demonstrates his unselfish play."

Gresham finished with 15 points, five rebounds. Peter Servente had 15 points, five rebounds and four assists. Preston Reese led the Rays with 10 rebounds.