Destin High Shark basketball teams take the floor in exhibition game

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

The Destin High Shark basketball teams took to the court Wednesday night in an exhibition game of sorts, tagged the Blue and White games. 

The girls took the floor first and showed promise. 

“Right now, we’re preparing for the season,” said Destin High Coach Esic Rhodes III. 

The ball was up for grabs during an exhibition game Wednesday night in Destin. Going for the ball from left are Alexis Gomez, Robert Pankratz, Aiden Garza and John Rice.

“We have a lot of first-time players … so it’s going slow right now. But as long as we keep working, we’ll be all right,” Rhodes said. 

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Rhodes, originally from Arkansas, comes to Destin High after coaching the freshmen boys' team at Fort Walton Beach for the past three years. Rhodes played college ball at Western Oklahoma State College and Philander Smith College.  

In addition to coaching the Lady Sharks, Rhodes is in his third year of coaching for Gulf Coast Basketball Elite and is a color commentator for the Northwest Florida State College men and women’s basketball teams. 

The Destin Lady Sharks go up against one another in a Blue and White exhibition game on Wednesday.

But as head coach of the Lady Sharks, he says, “I do have potential on my team. The girls are excited and they come to practice every day ready to learn … you can’t ask for anything more than that,” Rhodes said. 

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This is the first time for several of the girls to play, plus he has several freshmen on the team. Currently, Destin High only has freshmen through juniors. 

“This year is going to be a building year and I believe next year when they come back, they will learn more skills and they’ll be ready,” Rhodes said. 

The Destin High Lady Sharks played aggressive ball in an exhibition match at Destin United Methodist Church Life Center on Wednesday night.

But for the now, it’s time to get in the game. The Lady Sharks will play at home, Destin United Methodist Church Family Life Center, at 5 p.m. on Dec. 6 against the Freeport Bulldogs.  

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As for the boys, headed up by Coach Blake White, they took the floor next. 

Playing a fast-paced game against one another, the Sharks moved the ball around well and showed they could score. 

Deshawn Ford, a sophomore, comes down with a rebound during the Blue and White exhibition game for the Destin High Sharks.

“Our team is by no means where we want to be, but the blueprint, the foundation has been made,” White said. 

“It’s going to be up to all of us to work together to continue to pour in and shape this thing into what we want it to be,” he added. 

Sonny Taylor, a junior Shark, goes up for a jump shot in the exhibition game Wednesday night at the Life Center at Destin United Methodist Church.

White is not new to Okaloosa County basketball, having graduated from Choctawhatchee High School where he played basketball from 2004 to 2008. White graduated from Northwest Florida State College in 2011 and Southern New Hampshire University in 2015. 

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He comes to Destin High with more than 10 years of coaching experience. He served as an assistant at Choctaw in 2008 and then went on to be the head coach at Pryor Middle School in 2014-2017. He served as a varsity assistant coach at Pensacola Catholic High School, helping to lead the team to a 28-2 record. He also spent three seasons with the Fort Walton Beach Vikings as an associate head coach and JV head coach from 2018 to 2021. 

Eisley Ingram tries to get control of the ball during the exhibition Blue and White game Wednesday night in Destin.

And now he’s a Shark, wearing blue and white. 

“The players work hard. The players want to learn and get better every day,” White said. 

Destin High School Shark Coach Blake White talks with the team during a timeout during the Blue and White exhibition game Wednesday night.

“We’ve put in months of conditioning work and now it’s time to show everyone what we are all about and that Destin basketball is here,” he said. 

The Sharks will take the floor at 6 p.m. on Dec. 2 at home against the Arnold Marlins of Panama City Beach at the Destin United Methodist Life Center.