After leading for three quarters, the Destin Marlins fell to the Pryor Pirates 40-39 in the Okaloosa County Middle School Boy’s basketball championship game at Destin Middle School.
Despite the loss, Destin Coach Bob Davies was still proud of his Marlins, that finished up with a 10-4 record.
"They did great," Davies said. "(Pryor) were ready for us. Everything we did, they knew it was coming.
"They’ve got a great coach ... and his boys are well disciplined. They took it to us," he added. "But it was a great game. It was a fun game. I told the boys that a loss that hurts this much at this age, will do more to temper you for life that anything else that can happen. It’s a learning experience.
"I couldn’t be prouder of them. They’re a great group of kids," Davies said.
In the first quarter, Destin jumped out to a 12-4 lead with Isaac Hancey swishing a pair of 3-pointers late in the period.
In the second, Pryor closed it down to a two-point game about midway of the quarter. However, Destin rallied with Asa Newell, who finished with 20 points, hitting back-to-back jumpers for an 18-12 lead. Pryor came right back with Jayshawn Armstrong driving the paint for a layup and J. Clay hitting a long shot to bring it back to a two-point game. Right at the buzzer, Hancey swished his third 3-pointer of the night to give the Marlins a 21-16 boost right before the half.
In the third, Pryor took a two-point lead momentarily. But Destin came roaring back with seven straight points. Maddax Fayard nailed a 3-pointer and then drove the baseline for two points. Right at the buzzer, Price Bowen made a steal for the Marlins and then passed off to Newell for a shot off the glass and a 30-25 lead at the end of three.
The fourth quarter is where the where the wheels fell off for Destin. In the first minute, Fayard hit a jump shot to put the Marlins up 32-25. After that, Pryor went to work and reeled off 12 unanswered points. Armstrong, Nate Freeland and Jonathan Boyd each scored four points and Destin was down 37-32 with 2:05 to play.
In the last two minutes, Destin went to the foul line four times and made seven out of nine tries. Destin was having to force fouls to stop the clock and put Pryor on the line in hopes of getting a chance at the ball. With 30 seconds left on the clock, Fayard hit the first of two tries to close it down 40-37. Seconds later, Newell made two from the charity stripe with 12 ticks left on the clock. Destin immediately fouled Pryor and the Pirate missed the shot with Destin getting the rebound and getting the ball to half court and calling a timeout with six seconds to go.
With a roar in the gym, Destin comes out and fired off a 3-pointer, but the ball bounced off the rim. Bowen tried to go back up with it, but is blocked. With less than a second on the clock, Destin gets one last chance but comes up empty.
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For the game, Newell led the Marlins with 20 points, while Fayard hit for 10 and Hancey scored nine.
Armstrong was tops for Pryor with 10 points. Boyd scored nine and Joey Taylor and Freeland each put up eight.
Destin had 17 rebounds while Pryor collected 25.