Destin Marlins fall 58-50 to the Ruckel Rams in boys middle school basketball

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

In a thriller with two or three momentum changes, the Destin Marlins lost 58-50 to the visiting Ruckel Rams in middle school boys basketball action Thursday night at Regatta Bay. 

“You feel the energy? That’s what it’s all about,” said Destin Coach Bob Davies just seconds after the buzzer sounded on the final game of the season. 

“Ruckel’s a good team. They’re big and athletic. Just a little three-minute run that got us. But I’m thrilled,” Davies said. 

Destin Andrew Atkins goes up for a jump shot in the second half against the Ruckel Rams. Atkins scored 14 points in the 58-50 loss.

Destin fell behind 16-9 in the first quarter. 

In the second, after Ruckel hit a bucket, Destin’s Baylen Knox hit his first of five 3s on the night. Ruckel’s Freddy Libby answered with a 3-pointer. Seconds later, Andrew Atkins nailed a 3-pointer, then came back with an inside shot. Not done yet, Atkins hit a little side jumper to bring the Marlins within two points of catching the Rams. Knox followed up with a layup to tie the game, then Kevin Robertson popped a 3-pointer and Destin led 24-21. 

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Ruckel answered with a baseline shot then scored on an inbounds play to edge ahead 25-24. Destin’s Knox swished a 3-pointer to give Destin the lead. Ruckel hit two baskets back-to-back for a 29-27 advantage. 

Destin Coach Bob Davies huddles up the team for some last second strategy during a timeout. Destin lost 58-50 to Ruckel in middle school basketball.

With 35 seconds left in the first half, Destin’s Gabe Escalera nailed a 3-pointer and Atkins hit a little jumper right before the buzzer to give Destin a 32-29 lead at the half. 

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In the third quarter, Destin picked up where they left off with Atkins and Robertson hitting back-to-back 3s to start the period. Atkins worked his way on the baseline for a little jump shot and a 40-29 lead. The teams swapped baskets, then a technical was called on the Ruckel coach and Destin’s Knox went to the line and hit both shots for a 44-31 advantage. 

Destin's Baylen Knox takes it to the hole for the Marlins. Knox scored 23 points in the 58-50 loss to Ruckel. Knox had five 3-pointers in the game.

At that point the momentum shifted. In the last two minutes of the third, Ruckel outscored Destin 12 to 3. Destin still led 47-43. 

The fourth quarter was all Ruckel. The Rams put up 13 unanswered points. Destin’s Knox hit a 3-pointer with just under three minutes left to play. But that would be it for the Marlins. Ruckel hit two more free throws for the win. 

“We had them … but they got hot and couldn’t miss,” Davies said. “But there for a while we couldn’t miss.” 

Knox led the Marlins with 23 points, including five 3s. Atkins hit two 3s on his way to 14 points. 

"When he (Atkins) hit that first bucket he went on a tear,” Davies said. “To see him compete so well … I’m so happy for him.” Atkins missed the majority of the season due an injury he suffered during football season. 

The Marlins finished the season 2-12.