Destin Marlins get running-clock victory over Davidson Panthers in boys basketball

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

From tipoff to the final buzzer, it was total domination by the Destin Marlins who routed the Davidson Panthers 45-17 in boys middle school basketball action Thursday night in Crestview. 

“It was by far and away their best effort of the season,” said Destin Coach Ron Griffiths. 

“They got after it from the tip. … It was amazing. 

Destin's Will Blanchard tries to block out Brayden Powell of Davidson. Destin won the middle school game, 45-17.

“We were creating turnovers. We were getting easy buckets on the other end. We were finding the open man, running our offense … everything was clicking. But I think that all starts on the defensive end. And the way that they played defense tonight, we haven’t played defense like that as a team all season long,” Griffiths said. 

“They had just as many offensive rebounds as they did on the defense … a lot of put-backs,” he said. 

Destin's Gabe Escalera comes down with the rebound and pushes the ball down the floor in the first half of play against the Davidson Panthers. Escalera scored six pionts in the 45-17 running-clock victory.

Griffiths, Destin's athletic director who was sitting in for Coach Bob Davies, said he challenged the team before the game. 

“Go out and give me the best effort that you have given all season long, and I promise you, we will be ahead at halftime,” he said.  

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And his promise was true. 

The Marlins jumped out to an early 8-0 lead with Jordan Figueroa and Baylen Knox knocking down back-to-back 3s, followed by a put-back shot from Gabe Escalera. Kevin Robertson, who finished with 16 points on the night, was fouled and hit both shots, then came back seconds later with a 3-pointer to go up 13-0.  

Davidson finally got on the board at the 2:15 mark on a free throw from Brayden Powell. Destin finished up the period with a put-back bucket from Owen Atkins for a 15-1 lead. 

Destin's Owen Atkins makes a fast break for the goal in the second half against the Davidson Panthers. Atkins put up nine points in the 45-17 victory over the Davidson Panthers Thursday night in Crestview.

In the second quarter, Destin continued to bury the Panthers. Robertson drew a couple of fouls and hit three of four shots before Davidson’s Powell drew another foul. Powell hit both tries for an 18-3 game.

Destin put up 12 more points on free throws and a bucket each from Robertson, Atkins and Escalera. Davidson scored their first basket of the game at the buzzer on a shot from Izel Burton. 

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Destin led 30-5 at the half, hitting the mark of a 25-point lead for a running clock the second half. 

In the third, Destin took the ball to the hole. Figueroa hit a shot underneath, Atkins had a couple put-back baskets, Will Blanchard put a rebound back for two points and Robertson drove the lane for a layup, as did Grayson Somerville. When it was all said and done, Destin led 43-10. 

Kevin Robertson of the Destin Marlins tries to work his way past a Davidson Panther. Robertson led the Marlins with 16 pionts in the 45-17 running-clock victory over the Panthers.

In the final stanza, Davidson picked up seven points and Destin two, on a put-back basket from Armin Jusis. 

“I had no idea we already had them in a running clock at half time,” Griffiths said, giving credit to the defense. 

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“We had a couple of guys get in foul trouble. But the next guy came in and picked up right where they left off. 

“It was a total team effort tonight. It was everybody going after rebounds. It was everybody hustling after turnovers and moving the ball around on offense, and it takes an entire team to do that. They just played as a unit tonight … it was so fun to see,” Griffiths said.