Lady Vikings bounce back to advance in Destin Classic

Tina Harbuck

After dropping a close one, the Fort Walton Beach Lady Vikings bounced back to post a 64-32 win over Seneca High of South Carolina in Game Six of the Sandollar Bracket of the Destin Holiday Classic Tuesday night at the Destin Middle School gym.

With the win the Vikings advanced to play for a chance at fifth place. Results were not available at presstime due to holiday deadlines.

In the win over Seneca, the Vikings jumped out to a strong 18-7 lead in the first quarter with P-Nut Payton leading the way with three baskets and two from the free-throw line, while Julia Turner drained two 3s. Turner was high-point player for the Vikings at the final buzzer with 17 points, including five 3s.

In the second quarter, Fort Walton continued to bury Seneca outscoring them 22-10. Turner picked up her second pairing of 3s along with a bucket, while Leesa Greenwood knocked down two 3s of her own.

Fort Walton put 13 points on the board in the third and finished up with 11 in the fourth to secure the win.

Other Vikings scoring in double digits were Payton with 14 and Greenwood with 13.

On Day 1 of the tournament, Fort Walton Beach lost a close one 56-51 to defending champions, the Marist War Eagles of Atlanta, Ga.

“I thought that for 3 ½ quarters we battled hard and played fairly well,” said Fort Walton Coach Holly McDaniel.

“It was the small things the last three minutes that hurt us. Allowing second opportunities, two missed layups, three missed free throws and not making that big defensive stop when needed.”

The Lady Viking led 15-14 at the end of the first quarter, and 27-26 at the half.

In the third quarter, the Eagles took the lead momentarily with a couple of inside shots and a jumper. But the Vikings got the advantage back with two jump shots from Payton, who finished the night with 19 total points. Marist evented the score at 35-35 with a jumper from Dominique Oden. But again, Payton put a rebound back for two points followed by a 3-pointer from Aaliyah Davenport. Oden worked her way on the baseline for a bucket, followed up by a couple of free throws. Fort Walton led 40-39 at the buzzer.

In the fourth quarter, the Vikings stayed a step ahead with Davenport swishing a couple of more 3-pointers. Up 49-43 with 3:08 left to play, the Eagles scored seven consecutive points to go up 50-49.

With 1:50 on the clock, Fort Walton’s Turner went to the line and made two of three tries to give them a one-point advantage. Marist finished up with a basket from Oden and four from the foul line, while the Vikings missed on the front end of the bonus.