Playing without Asa Newell, the Destin Marlins lost a physical battle on the road Thursday evening to the Davidson Panthers, 51-31.


"It clearly showed how important Asa Newell is to this team,“ said Destin Coach Bob Davies of his post player who was out sick. “We lost our cool, which is disappointing, but we will work on that.”


Thursday night was almost a repeat of last year.


Last year, Destin beat the Panthers at home pretty bad early on and then lost at their house.


Such was the case this year as well.


“Déjà vu all over again,” Davies said.


“I was clearly out coached,” he added. “So we will work on making adjustments in case we are lucky enough to play them again.”


Even with the loss, there were some positives.


“Andrew Atkins really stepped up and led us with 10 points,” Davies said. “Christian Harnish took a hard charge off of a kid who weighed twice as much as he. Gabe Escalera, a sixth grader, looked really good. He is going to be special in the years to come.


“And Erik Scott showed the entire team that you do not have to be tall to rebound,” he added. “You just have to box out. Hopefully that will inspire the others to start boxing out.”


In the first half, the Marlins hung with the Panthers. Davidson scored 12 in the first quarter and Destin put up eight with Atkins scoring six and Price Bowen, two.


In the second quarter, Destin scored 16 to Davidson’s 17. Maddax Fayard nailed a 3-pointer and two baskets for Destin, while Isaac Hancey swished a 3-pointer as well, plus he added two from the free-throw line. Atkins and Scott each added two.


Davidson led 29-24 at the half.


The difference came in the third, Davidson outscored the Malrins 15-3. Hancey scored the only points for Destin in the period.


In the fourth quarter, both teams played their subs with everybody getting playing time. Davidson scored seven and Destin four.


Up next for Destin is a 6:30 p.m. game Monday at home against the Pryor Pirates.