Destin Lady Marlins are back in the gym and working hard

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

After finishing second in the county with a 12-2 record last season, the Destin Lady Marlins are back in the gym and improving every day. 

“We’ve had one week of practice, so they are starting to learn my style and the intensity of practice,” said Destin Coach Susie Pierce. “But they have been some of the best practices we’ve ever had this early in the season.” 

Destin's Carson Fayard takes charge of the ball and moves it down the floor. Fayard led the Lady Marlins in scoring last season.

“They are great kids, listen well, they are like sponges. They play hard,” Pierce said. 

The Marlins have about five returning players with eighth grader Carson Fayard leading the charge. 

Fayard, who averaged 20 points a game last season, has grown about 3 to 4 inches, now topping out at 5-foot-9. Fayard had one of her best games against Bruner Middle last season tossing in 28 points. 

Pierce said they will be looking to get the ball to Fayard a lot. 

Destin Middle School basketball coach Susie Pierce gives instruction during a recent practice.

“She scores inside and she scores outside. She gets steals, so she creates a lot of offense with her defense,” Pierce said. 

Others returning for the Marlins are two-year starting point guard Anabelle Shackelford and sixth grader Avery Cowles. 

Last season report:Destin Lady Marlins beat undefeated Pryor Pirates in middle school basketball

Eighth graders Isa Nohrenberg and Bailey Gaffney both saw a lot of varsity playing time as well last season. 

Kaylee McKissack gets a hand on the ball during practice this week.

As for new members of the Marlin squad, Destin has a couple of move-ins who they hope can contribute on the floor. 

Seventh grader Gabriella Diaz moved to Destin from Oklahoma and Kaylee McKissack is from Crestview. 

“I’m very pleased,” Pierce with the additions, noting she plans for them to help at the post position. The Marlins graduated their post players last season. 

Sixth grader Avery Cowles looks to move the ball inside during practice.

“That was going to be a vulnerable spot for us … so those were wonderful faces to see at tryouts,” she said. 

Strong finish last season:Destin girls finish strong with running-clock victory over Ruckel in basketball

Another player new to the Marlins is eighth grader Bella Riggs. 

Others rounding out the Destin varsity roster include eighth grader Ella Heath; seventh grader Zoe Newell; and sixth graders Chloe Lindsey, Luci Frankfurt and Macie Kimball. 

“Hopefully we’ll get our defense really strong so it’ll be hard to score against us,” Pierce said. 

But for now, they are just trying to pull together as a team. 

Anabelle Shackelford has started for the Destin Marlins for the past couple of years and is back on the floor again this season.

“We’ve got so many new faces; we’re still working on our chemistry. But they are all working out so well,” she said. "We should be able to compete at the same level if not higher than last year."

The Marlins tip off at home at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 2 against the Ruckel Rams of Niceville.