College Basketball

With Southland tournament canceled, Katy native Ray’s college career ends

By DENNIS SILVA II, Times Sports Editor
Posted 3/12/20

Katy native and Incarnate Word sophomore guard Macy Ray and her teammates were 45 minutes from leaving Thursday morning to the Merrell Center to warm up for their Southland Conference tournament game later that afternoon.

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College Basketball

With Southland tournament canceled, Katy native Ray’s college career ends

Posted

Katy native and Incarnate Word sophomore guard Macy Ray and her teammates were 45 minutes from leaving Thursday morning to the Merrell Center to warm up for their Southland Conference tournament game later that afternoon.

Then, Ray said, reality set in.

At around 11:16 a.m., the Southland Conference announced it was canceling its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments because of precautions for the coronavirus, abruptly ending the collegiate careers of seven Incarnate Word seniors and Ray, the former Taylor High standout who is cutting her hoops career short to begin nursing school at the University of Texas medical school in downtown Houston next fall.

First-year Cardinals coach John Dow texted his players to come down to the designated team meeting room at the hotel they were staying at. Players had followed the news of the Southland’s cancellation on social media, and Dow confirmed it. In the following 30 minutes, players talked, cried, consoled each other and reflected on what had been the program’s most successful season since joining NCAA Division I in 2013-14. They left to return to San Antonio shortly after.

The Cardinals’ 76-69 loss to Abilene Christian on March 7 marked the last game of Incarnate Word’s season, and of Ray’s career. Ray unknowingly made the most of it, posting a career-best 23 points and seven 3-pointers made, with one turnover in 43 minutes.

“None of us thought that Abilene Christian was going to be our last game,” Ray said. “We had worked so hard to make the (Southland) tournament, and we had come into this tournament thinking we were going to make it to (the championship game) Sunday and make another first for the program. To be hit suddenly with that news was just devastating.”

Ray said the team did not seriously start following coronavirus news until they heard during Tuesday’s practice that the Ivy League canceled its conference basketball tournaments.

“That’s when we thought, wow, could this actually happen to us? Then everything just happened so fast,” Ray said. “We were at Cheddar’s (on Wednesday), eating dinner as a team, and we got an email saying school had been canceled and we were going to be online for the rest of the semester. Everything just happened so fast.

“We still thought we were going to play, but just in front of a limited number of fans. It didn’t hit us until (Thursday) morning at breakfast that we saw the Big 10, Big 12, SEC and all those tournaments being canceled. We knew we’d be next, while trying to stay focused on the possibility that we still might play.”

Ray knew in September this would be the final season of an outstanding basketball career. Along with her parents, Macy met with nursing advisors about what would be best for her future. This was the path to take.

An athletic scholarship paid for her prerequisites and basic courses in allowing Ray to pursue the career she desired.

“I knew I had two years more of eligibility, but everything I do, I try to do to the best of my ability,” Ray said. “My dream was never to only play two years of college basketball, but I knew to be as successful of a nurse as I wanted to be, I couldn’t balance both. Incarnate giving me the opportunity to pay for the first two years has set me up to be the best nurse I wanted to be.”

Ray hopes to be a labor and delivery nurse like her older sister, Lexie.

“Seeing how much benefit it has brought to her, being able to be a stay-at-home mom half the week and still pursue the career she loves. Seeing how successful she is, it was like, ‘Wow. I think I can enjoy that, too.’ I got to be in the delivery room when my nephew was born, and I just fell in love with it. I knew right then that’s what I wanted to be.”

Ray, a four-year varsity letterman for coach Blair Ary at Taylor and a first-team all-region selection during her junior and senior years, averaged 7.9 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 32.6 minutes per game for the Cardinals. She started 27 of 29 games and led the team in 3-pointers made (51) and was second in points and assists per game.

Incarnate Word finished 14-15 overall, 10-10 in the Southland conference. The Cardinals were the No. 6 seed heading into the Southland tournament but topped three first-place conference teams over the course of their season.

Incarnate Word earned first-time wins over Stephen F. Austin and Lamar, and first-time road wins over Abilene Christian and Sam Houston State. Stephen F. Austin was the No. 2 seed in the Southland tournament, Abilene Christian No. 3 and Sam Houston State No. 4.

“I just wanted to create so many firsts for the program,” Ray said. “Have a winning record, make it to the tournament. Doing everything in my power to make this season the most memorable. I took each game one at a time, just being grateful to play the sport.

“I’m sad it’s over, especially that it ended this way, but everything that basketball provided for me, I couldn’t be upset. It provided so much, from friendships that are going to last forever to paying for my education. It’s bittersweet.”

Ray said she is in “shock” from what she’s seen and heard about the coronavirus.

Late Thursday evening, Incarnate Word students received an email from the school stating the university wanted them to go home and be moved out of dorms by March 30.

“We went from hearing about all those cases in New York and California and then reality hits,” Ray said. “Just last week, there was a case in San Antonio, and someone had entered the North Star Mall, and that’s the mall that all of us student-athletes go to. It’s just crazy how fast it has spread and how many people it has affected.”

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