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Destin holds on for win over Mustangs

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log
The Destin Log

After leading the entire game, the Destin Marlins lost a little traction in the fourth but still came out on top 40-35 over the Shoal River Mustangs in middle school basketball action Thursday evening in Crestview.

“We’ve got to get better at the half-court pressure,” said Destin Coach Bob Davies.

“I’m kind of glad we ran into that problem with them and with Ruckel, because we’re going to be ready come tournament time. We’ll be ready for it,” Davies added.

The Marlins failed to handle the pressure a couple of weeks ago and lost a buzzer-beater to the Ruckel Rams.

The middle school basketball tournament starts the week of Jan. 27 with time and place to be announced later.

In the meantime, Destin still has one game left to play. The Marlins will take on the Meigs Wildcats at home at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 23.

As for the game in Crestview Thursday night, Destin jumped out to a 20-10 lead in the first half.

Isaac Hancey led the Marlin attack in the first half with three 3-pointers from all around the arc, plus he drove the ball inside for a couple of more baskets for a total of 13 points.

The 13 points put Hancey at 44 points for the last two games combined.

“That’s big because they can’t just box or triangle in Asa and Maddax,” Davies said, which is what the Mustangs did.

When Shoal doubled down on Asa Newell and Maddax Fayard it opened up Hancey to take the shots.

In the second half, Shoal River backed off some on Newell and Fayard, opening them up to make a move.

“Fayard really came alive in the second half,” Davies said.

For the game, Fayard was high-point player for Destin with 15 points, 10 coming in the second half.

At the start of the third quarter, Shoal scored first and then Destin’s Newell put a rebound back for two points. Shoal scored again before Fayard drove the ball inside for the Marlins picking up a foul. Fayard hit the second of two tries. Shoal picked up a point at the free-throw line then Fayard took it to the hole for two points. Shoal scored one last time. Destin led 25-17 at the buzzer.

In the final quarter, Destin pulled away by as much as 13 points in the first three minutes before the Mustangs got hot. Destin’s Price Bowen passed off to Newell in the paint for two points. The Mustangs picked up a free throw. Destin’s Fayard pushed the ball inside for two points and a foul for a three-point play. Destin led 30-18.

Shoal River scored two more from the foul line and Fayard again took the ball to the net for two points. Shoal River’s TaQuan Townsend hit a bucket, then Newell swished up a 3-pointer right up the middle for a 35-22 advantage, the largest of the night.

The Mustangs came back with a 3-pointer from Devin Davis. Destin’s Eric Scott drew a foul and hit the second of two tries. At that point, the Mustangs put up six unanswered points to close it down to a five-point game.

With just over a minute to play, Destin’s Bowen took the ball up inside for a bucket to stretch the lead. But the Mustangs came right back picking up fouls and hitting four of six tries for a 38-35 game.

In the final seconds, Fayard made a steal and went the distance for a layup at the buzzer to give the Marlins a 40-35 win.

Davies spoke highly of several of the Marlins and their effort. He made mention of Brandon and Christian Harnish, Bowen, Eric Scott and Andrew Atkins.

“We’re kind of getting into our rhythm,” Davies said.