After starter Samantha Sherer went down in the first quarter, the Destin Marlins rallied and pulled off a 36-20 victory over the visiting Shoal River Mustangs in middle school girls’ basketball Thursday evening in Destin.

“That was a blow,” said Destin Coach Susie Pierce of losing Sherer to an ankle sprain in the first four minutes of play.

Sherer has been averaging 15-plus points a game this season for the Marlins.

“It caused some panic and it took us about five minutes to calm back down and get back into playing basketball," Pierce said. "But we talked about it at the half.

“They calmed down, we got back into our diamond (defense) and adjusted a couple of our players around and then the intensity picked way up,” she added.

Before Sherer went down, she got things rolling for the Marlins with a quick take away in the first few seconds for a layup. Shoal answered with a 3-pointer from Talayah Holliday. Sherer made another steal for a layup and a free throw. Taylor Klosterman followed with an inside shot on a turnover for a 7-3 game. Shoal River scored one last time before Destin put up nine consecutive points. Elaina Perkins scored for the Marlins on an assist from Sherer, and then Sherer made a steal for a layup, but sprained her ankle in the process. Klosterman made a free throw, Rylee Brown a basket and then Klosterman finished up the run with a long shot for a 16-5 lead at the buzzer.

In the second quarter, the Marlins struggled and the Mustangs outscored them 5-2. Destin still held an 18-10 lead at the half.

After the break, Destin came out like gang busters and put up 16 points while holding the Mustangs to four. Brown and Izabelle Adams both knocked down seven points for the Marlins, while Klosterman scored two.

In the fourth quarter, Lexi Roberts scored the lone basket for Destin, while the Mustangs scored six.

“This was a good test for the kids,” Pierce said. “Taylor and Rylee both stepped up and put the team on their back and said, 'Come on, let's go.' I’m so proud of them.”

Brown led the Marlins with 10 points. Klosterman scored eight, while Sherer and Adams each scored seven. Chipping in two each were Perkins and Roberts.

Scoring six each for the Mustangs were Jeilani Champion, Janiya Goldsmith and Holliday.

Up next for Destin is a home game at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday against St. Mary’s of Fort Walton Beach.