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Destin Lady Marlins beat undefeated Pryor Pirates in middle school basketball

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Down by five at the half, the Destin Marlins kicked it into high-gear the second half and edged out the previously undefeated Pryor Pirates 45-43 in girls middle school basketball action Wednesday night in Fort Walton Beach. 

“It was Carson (Fayard). It was like her will to win it,” said Destin Coach Susie Pierce. “She got rebounds, she got steals, she took it to the hole, she ran point. It was really just her out there.” 

Fayard, a seventh-grader, tossed in 23 of Destin's 45 points. 

Destin's Carson Fayard comes down with the ball and pushes it down the floor against the Pryor Pirates. Fayard scored 23 pionts in the 45-43 victory.

But Fayard had help. Anabelle Shackelford finished with eight points, Riley Palmer had seven, and Ashlyn Priest had four. 

“Our big girls were getting some rebounds the second half,” Pierce said. 

More:Destin's Carson Fayard leads Marlin attack over Bruner Spartans for 45-19 win

“And our press helped us in the third quarter,” she added, noting the refs were letting them play a little more physical the second half. 

Earlier in the season, Destin lost 53-38 to Pryor. With the win Wednesday night, Destin now sits at 11-2 on the season. 

“They got us early, but that was our season,” Pierce said in the locker room after the game.

In the first quarter, Destin fell behind 17-12. 

More:Destin Lady Marlins keep calm to win nail-biter over visiting Shoal River

In the second, the Marlins closed it to a two-point game early with Fayard making a free throw followed by a put-back basket from Palmer. But then Pryor answered with Olivia Alexandre converting on a takeaway. Seconds later, Khalia Ludy put a rebound back for two points and a 21-15 advantage. Fayard scored a bucket for Destin, and then in the last minute Avery Cowles was fouled and hit the second of two tries. With 10 seconds left in the first half, Pryor’s Anoviyah Wilson put a rebound back for two points and a 23-18 lead at the half. 

Destin's Ellaine Wolford is double-teamed under the basket by a couple Pryor Pirates. Destin won the game 45-43.

In the third, Destin evened the score quickly with Ellaine Wolford putting a rebound back for two points, Fayard hitting a free throw and then Shackelford making a layup for a 23-23 game. Pryor drew a foul and made one shot before Destin reeled off five straight points. Palmer scored a basket, then got fouled and hit the second of two tries. Shackelford nailed a long shot and Destin was on top 28-24. By the end of three, Destin was up 32-29. 

More:Lady Marlins rally in second half for big win over Shoal River

The Marlins continued to drive the ball inside with Fayard and Priest hitting back-to-back layups to start the fourth. The scoring went back and forth with several jump ball decisions due to the physical game. With less than a minute to go, Destin was on top 45-38 when Pryor’s Diaris Morales sank a 3-pointer. Seconds later, Pryor's Alexandre quickly fired off another 3, but was fouled. She went to the line and hit two of three tries with 23 seconds left to close the score to 45-43. 

Destin Marliin Coach Susie Pierce has a sideline chat with Avery Cowles in the final minutes of the game against Pryor. Destin won 45-43.

Destin brought the ball down, Fayard was fouled and went to the line and missed.  

The Pirates got the ball to half court and called timeout. Their final shot, a 3-pointer, bounced off the rim to give Destin the 45-43 win.