Lady Marlins fall to Bruner Spartans in championship game

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

The Destin Marlins didn’t bring home a victory from the Okaloosa County Middle School Girls Basketball Tournament held at Davidson Middle in Crestview, but they didn’t come home empty handed. The Lady Marlins brought home the runner-up trophy after falling 50-30 to the Bruner Spartans of Fort Walton Beach. 

“Technically we weren’t supposed to be here,” said Destin coach Derrick Everett.  

The Destin Marlins finished as runners-up in the Okaloosa County Middle School Girls Basketball Tournament. They lost 50-30 to Bruner in the title game.

In regular season play, Destin had lost twice to the Pryor Pirates but then beat them in the semifinals to get to the championship game against the Bruner Spartans on Wednesday.  

In two earlier games against Bruner, Destin lost. 

"They were some tougher games; we were missing some people. But today it was straight up,” Everett said. 

Destin's Maya Weber fights to keep control of the ball while surrounded by Spartans.

“It was very intense, very physical and at the end it came down to that. But I’m proud of these girls. They left it all out there. 

“There is nothing we should be mad about. The other team played a great game,” Everett said. 

More:Lady Marlins prevail in semifinals

To start, Bruner scored on the first trip down the court with Jada Clardy tossing one in. A minute later, Clardy, who finished the night with 17 points, was back again for another bucket. Kiarah Jarrett scored and Bruner was top 6-0. 

Destin's Neilya Stewart looks to pass the ball off against the Bruner Spartans. Stewart scored six points for Destin in their 50-30 loss to Bruner.

Destin finally got on the board with Baggi Diaz getting fouled and making the first of two tries. Seconds later she put a rebound back for two points and then Kaylee McKissack followed suit with a putback.

Bruner scored, then Destin answered with Chloe Lindsey hitting one from the paint. In the last three minutes, Bruner picked up three points from the free-throw line and Destin’s Neilya Stewart nailed a long shot, just shy of the 3-point arc. Destin trailed 11-9 at the buzzer. 

In the second quarter, Bruner pulled ahead 20-12, but then Destin closed it back down in the last two minutes with Stewart making one from the paint and McKissack making a free throw. Destin trailed by five at the half. 

Destin's Kaylee McKissack tries to keep control of the ball in the championship game against the Bruner Spartans. McKissack led Destin with 10 points.

In the third, the Spartans took a 29-17 lead early on. Destin closed it down to a nine-point game, but had a hard time keeping the Spartans off the baseline, with Abria Jackson coming in from underneath for buckets. Bruner led 33-24. 

In the fourth, Bruner made two runs on the Marlins to outscore them 17-6. 

More:Destin Middle wins in semifinals of Okaloosa County soccer tournament

The top scorer for Destin was McKissack with 10 points. Diaz and Stewart each scored six and Lindsey had four. Avery Cowles and Maya Weber each chipped in two. 

Bruner had two players in double figures. Clardy scored 17 and Sa’Run Newton 14. 

“I’m very proud of these girls. This is a special team … a special season,” Everett said. 

The Destin Marlins finished as runners-up in the county with a record of 10-6 on the season.