Destin Marlins sink Pirates on buzzer-beaters

Destin Coach Ron Griffiths gives Justin Winter a big bear hug after he sinks the winning basket in overtime to give the Marlins a 46-44 victory over Pryor Monday evening in Destin.

Not one, but two buzzer-beater shots secured a 46-44 overtime win for the Destin Marlins boys basketball team in their season opener against the visiting Pryor Pirates Monday night.

After trailing most of the game, Destin closed it down to a one-point game in the final 15 seconds of regulation. However, the Pirates went to the line and made both free throws for a three-point advantage. Destin got the ball to midcourt and called timeout with six ticks left on the clock.

The Marlins brought the ball in and worked around to Jack Bruner who fired off a 3-pointer, right up the middle, as the buzzer sounded. The shot was good, and the crowd erupted as the game went into overtime.

In the three-minute overtime period, Pryor scored first on a free throw, then Jason Shirley made an inside shot with 55 seconds left. Both teams later got tries from the charity stripe but missed, however, Pryor finally made one with Shawn Smith sinking the first of two tries for a 44-44 with 16 seconds left on the clock.

Destin brought it down and then called a time out. After they brought it back in, Shirley tried to put the ball on the glass but missed. In a last ditch effort, Justin Winter put the ball back up as the buzzer sounded. The shot was good and the Destin team and home crowd went berserk.

“It was all about effort in the second half,” said Destin Coach Ron Griffiths as he walked off the court, catching his breath. “What a way to start the season.”

In the first quarter, Destin had the lead momentarily when Matthew Boswell sank a 3-pointer followed by a putback shot from Winter. But the Pirates evened the score at 5-5 with Shawn Smith sinking a free throw and a basket. Destin’s Deonte Sheffield hit a fast-break layup to give the Marlins an edge. But in the last two minutes, Pryor pulled away with three baskets and a free throw for a 12-7 lead a the break.

In the second quarter, Destin gained a little ground with Shirley and Sheffield each making an inside basket. But the Pirates came roaring back with Marquise Kane hitting an inside shot and then coming right back with a 3-pointer. The two teams swapped baskets before Destin went on a little five-point run right before the half. Winter made two free throws, Sheffield make a breakaway layup and then a free throw for a 23-18 game at the half.

In the third quarter, Destin outscored the Pirate 7-4, but still trailed 27-25.

Midway through the fourth, the Pirates stretched the lead to seven points before the Marlins mounted a come back. Shirley and Sheffield made six points each inside the paint, before Bruner fired off the 3-pointer to send the game into overtime.

“The second half effort was phenomenal,” Griffiths said. “We held them to just four points in the THIRDin was in the right place at the right time,” in overtime, Griffiths said.

For the game, top scorers for the Marlins were Sheffield with 17 points, and Shirley with 12. Winters had eight points and Bruner, four.

Kane was leading scorer for the Pirates with 20 points. Smith hit double digits with 12 points.

Up next for the Marlins is a 5 p.m. game Thursday at Lewis Middle School in Valparaiso.