After a strong start, the Destin Marlins missed some opportunities down the stretch, falling 51-39 to the Bruner Spartans in boys middle school basketball action.
"I thought we came out and looked good coming out of the gate," said Destin Coach Ron Griffiths. "We knocked down some shots and played well on defense."
At the end of the first quarter, Destin was on top 12-7 with Justin Winter hitting three baskets. Jack Bruner and Matthew Boswell each knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Marlins the five-point margin at the buzzer.
"They picked up the tempo on us in the second quarter," Griffiths said. "And we helped them out by turning the ball over."
With less than 2 minutes left in the first half, Bruner was up by two points, then Jack Lavine drilled a couple of 3-pointers to give the Spartans a 25-17 lead at the break.
In the third quarter, the Marlins staged a bit of a comeback with Jack Bruner hitting back-to-back 3-pointers, with Boswell tossing in one of his own to close it down to a three point game. However, the Spartans continued to outscore Destin and the Marlins trailed 40-30 at the end of the period.
In the fourth quarter, "We had a lot of missed opportunities," Griffiths said. "We had our chances. We just missed too many free throws."
For the game, Destin was eight of 18 from the free-throw line, while Bruner made 12 of 22.
Jack Bruner led the Marlins with 11 points, while Deonte Sheffield and Justin Winter each scored nine.
J.M Owens led Bruner with 12 points. Mike Turner scored 10 points, while DeDe Raine and Jack Lavine each scored nine.
• The Destin Marlin boys will play at 5:30 p.m. Monday at home against Ruckel of Niceville in the first round of the Okaloosa County Middle School Tournament.
• The Destin girls will travel to Crestview for a 5 p.m. game Monday against Davidson Middle School.