Maddax Fayard knocked down 17 points to lead the Destin Marlins in a 32-21 win over the visiting Bruner Spartans in middle school basketball action Thursday night.


“I think this was the best game Maddax Fayard has ever had,” said Destin Coach Bob Davies. “His decision making ... and he stayed calm, cool and collected. And he never came out of the game.”


But Fayard wasn’t the only player Davies had praise for following the game. He spoke highly of the entire team.


“We didn’t score as much, but I thought our offense played great,” he said.


Early on in the game it was like there was a lid on the goal with players struggling to get a shot to fall.


“But thing is, it doesn’t matter when you play hard. And I’ve never seen a group of kids play that hard every single play,” Davies said. “I told the kids if they had played 90 percent as hard as they did and won by 30, I wouldn’t be as happy ... because when your offense isn’t there, your effort can still win a ball game.


“That was the most thrilling game I’ve ever seen,” he added.


In the first quarter, almost four minutes ticked off the clock before either team got a field goal to fall. Both had made shots from the free throw line but Fayard hit the first field goal on a little jump shot at the 3:35 mark. He went on to finish out the first quarter with a 3-pointer and a driving layup for a 9-2 lead at the break.


In the second quarter, Bruner got rolling and put up eight points to Destin’s six. Scoring two points each for Destin were Fayard, Asa Newell and Brandon Harnish. The Marlins led 15-10 at the half.


In the third quarter, Destin pulled away after the Spartans made a couple of free throws. Newell hit an inside shot, then Bruner made another free throw. The Marlin’s Price Bowen put a rebound back up for two points and then Fayard followed up with a long shot for a 21-13 advantage. In the last two minutes, Bruner made another free throw and Destin’s Newell knocked down a 3-pointer from the left corner for a 24-14 lead at the buzzer.


In the fourth, Destin continued to take it to the Spartans with Fayard hitting a layup and then coming back with a couple of jumpers. Newell picked up two more points and Destin put the game away 32-21.


“Asa Newell was a force in the paint on defense with a ton of rebounds and blocks,” Davies said.


With the win the Marlins moved to 2-0 going into the Thanksgiving holiday break.


Up next for Destin is a 6:30 p.m. game on Dec. 3 at Pryor Middle in Fort Walton Beach.