It could be looked at as a sign of how far Marco Island Academy’s basketball program has come. A couple of years ago it would have been laughable to suggest that the academy was overlooking an opponent.

But in Thursday’s 76-68 loss to Everglades City, the Rays looked like a team that was surprised by the fight in their opponents.

“It all comes down to this,” a disappointed Marco coach Roger Raymond said, “we missed six uncontested layups, we hit 12 out of 22 free throws, we hit 7 out 23 threes and we lost by eight points. We just didn’t play very well offensively. And we couldn’t stop Scott Morris. He’s a good player. Probably the best we’ve faced. Just not a very good effort on our part. A good win for them. We lost a game we probably should have won.”

The Rays led 11-10 at the end of the first quarter, but the Gators came out strong in second quarter, outscoring the academy 23-16 to take a 33-26 lead into halftime.

Things got worse for Marco in the second half as the Gators built a lead and kept the Rays at bay till the end.

Morris was unstoppable, burning the Rays for 41 points.

Brandon Estremera kept the Rays in the game with his long range shooting. He ended up with 27 points. Rays leader Cole Stretton was held to 18 points, though he played his typical hustling game. Tyler Gresham (11) and Brian Flynn (10) were also in double figures for the Rays.