Marco Island Academy head coach Roger Raymond’s 43rd wedding anniversary looked like it was going to be a ho-hum affair as his Rays seemed to be sleep walking through the first half of Wednesday night’s game.
But a thrilling fourth-quarter burst brought the home crowd to life and left the Rays 58-55 winners over Seacrest in their home opener.
Seacrest came out in a box and one defense designed to stop the Rays’ Cole Stretton, last year’s 2A player of the year for Southwest Florida. The Rays had trouble attacking the unusual defense.
“It was hard for our kids to recognize that,” Raymond said. “But with Stretton, who averages 25 points a game, you’re going to get all kinds of gimmicks. He finally got the point that he needed to drive. But then he’s got to kick the ball out. And Brandon Estremera was standing there with nobody on him.”
In fact, it may have been a Stretton-to-Estremera pass that turned the tide with 6:10 left in the game and the Rays down 44-34.
Estremera caught fire from that point on, scoring 14 fourth quarter points to lead the Rays to the improbable victory.
The Rays outscored Seacreat 24-11 in the final stanza, capped by a timely rebound and pair of free throws by Tyler Gresham with 18 seconds left.
Estremera, who finished with 33 points, put an exclamation point on his brilliant finish by blocking a Seacrest three-point attempt with 9.4 seconds remaining.
The win improves the academy’s record to 2-2. The Rays will be travel to Naples on Friday to take on area power First Baptist Academy at 8 p.m. They’ll return home Monday to take on Canterbury in a 6:30 p.m. start.