The 2015-16 basketball season has been challenging for Roger Raymond and his Marco Island Academy squad.
A much more challenging district lineup combined with a stiff non-conference schedule resulted in plenty of losses for a team that coming off of district championships the past two seasons.
But as the losses mounted, there was never a lack of intensity or hustle from Raymond’s small-but-scrappy team. Despite a roster that never numbered more than seven players, the Rays played an up-tempo game all season and more often than not were in the thick of the action as the game came down the stretch.
Friday’s easy 85-72 win over Oasis Charter was the Academy’s third straight win and a nice showcase for top seniors Cole Stretton and Brandon Estremera.
Stretton, the team captain, scored 27 points to cap a wonderful career that saw him earn district player-of-the-year honors last season and eclipse 1,000 points.
Estremera gave the home crowd one last look at the smooth shooting style that inched him to within 19 points of a 1,000-point career as he lit up the scoreboard to the tune of 41 points, including seven three-pointers.
“They played three straight nights well. Tonight we shot well,” Raymond said, “These kids decided to get back on their feet and play hard. They’re going out strong.
“They’ve won two district championships, I don’t know when that will happen again. These kids stood tall. I couldn’t be more proud of them,” the coach said.
The Academy finished their season 8-18.