Shoal River Mustangs too much for Destin Marlins on the court

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

After a close first quarter, the Destin Marlins struggled to keep pace with the Shoal River Mustangs, falling 42-24 in boys middle school action in Crestview on Tuesday night.  

“Hats off to Shoal. They are very well-coached and have a great player in Jay Tassin,” said Destin Coach Bob Davies. 

Tassin led the Mustangs with 11 points. 

“I was very happy with our effort. We are still young, and I thought the seventh-graders grew a lot,” Davies said. 

Davies mentioned the play of seventh-graders Gabe Escalera and Kevin Robertson. 

Destin's Gabe Escalera finds himself heavily guarded by a couple of Shoal River Mustangs. Destin lost the middle school game 42-24.

“Gabe Escalera really played well. He played post, wing, and point on offense, and every position in our 2-3, man and 1-3-1 defenses. That’s a lot to say for a seventh-grader,” Davies said. 

As for Robertson, “His basketball IQ is crazy high,” Davies said. Robertson also played every position on defense except the middle. 

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“The whole team played really hard, including Jaxson LaPointe and Cooper Hall off the bench. I was also happy with how our second and third teams executed in the fourth quarter,” he added. 

Destin's Kevin Robertson tries to bring the ball down the floor for the Marlins. Robertson scored six pionts in the 42-24 loss to Shoal River.

“We will learn from this and keep building,” Davies said. 

In the first quarter, Shoal jumped out to a 6-3 lead, with Robertson hitting a 3-pointer up the middle for the Marlins. Destin managed to tie the game with Escalera popping a 3-pointer from the left side. Shoal answered with a 3-pointer from Brayden Hall to edge ahead. Demian Joyner was fouled and hit the second of two tries for the Mustangs for a 10-6 advantage. In the final seconds, Destin’s Cooper Hall tossed one in for a 10-8 game at the buzzer. 

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In the second quarter, Destin took the lead on a 3-pointer from Baylen Knox. Shoal answered with a 3 from Hall. Destin edged ahead one last time on a trey from Robertson for a 14-13 game.

At that point the Mustangs dominated the last five minutes of the first half, going on a 14-point scoring spree with 3-pointer to start. Joyner worked the ball inside for a basket, then Brayden Phillips made a steal for a quick layup. Joyner scored another shot off the glass, then Tassin made a steal for a layup. The Mustangs finished up at the free-throw line with Joyner making one of two tries and Tassin sinking both shots for a 27-14 lead at the half. 

Shoal River's Brayden Phillips makes the steal and takes the ball down for a quick layup. Shoal River won the game 42-24.

At that start of the third, Shoal worked the ball in to Will Strawbridge who made back-to-back shots down low. Destin finally got on the board at the 4:45 mark with a bucket from Escalera. Strawbridge scored another and Tassin followed with an inside shot as well. Destin scored in the last 20 seconds on a long shot from Jordan Figueroa. Shoal led 35-18. 

Destin finished in the fourth with six points and Shoal with seven.