Down by one with less than two minutes to go, the Destin Marlins worked the ball inside more than once to pull off a 51-46 victory over the Shoal River Mustangs in middle school basketball Thursday night.


“That was exciting,” said Destin Coach Bob Davies as soon as he caught his breath. “It’s fun to win a back and forth game.”


The lead swapped hands six times and the score was tied twice.


“I know I sound like a broken record, but the effort is incredible,” Davies said of the Marlins.


Davies went on to brag on several of the players, such as Asa Newll, Isaac Hancey, Maddax Fayard, Eric Scott, Price Bowen, Brandon and Christian Hanish


“Asa played great ... it was by far Isaac’s best game and Maddax is always a beast,” Davies said. “We had three great scorers.”


Newell led the effort with 20 points and Fayard followed with 19, including three 3-pointers. Hancey nailed two 3s on his way to eight points.


"We’ve got some hard-nose guys that don’t care how many they score. They want to stop the other team,” Davies said. “And it’s great when you have that attitude on a team. They pulled together.


“This is the first time I’ve seen our team communicating with each other on the court, which makes the coach’s job a whole lot easier,” he added. “Our captains were taking charge and directing traffic.”


To start the game, Destin’s Fayard nailed a 3-pointer right out of the gate. Shoal answered with a couple of inside shots, then Fayard came back with another 3-pointer. Newell followed up with a baseline shot for an 8-4 lead. Before the period was finished, Hancey popped a couple of 3s and Fayard a jumper. Destin led 17-13 at the buzzer.


In the second quarter, Destin pulled away by as many as 10 points with Newell working his way inside for three baskets and picking up a foul for seven points. Fayard sank his third 3-pointer and Destin led 28-18.


At that point, the Mustangs went on a bit of a scoring spree with Anthony St. Vincent hitting a pair of baskets, Brayden Hall a 3-pointer and Lorenzo Blackwell hitting a layup to tie the game at 28-28.


In the last minute of the first half, Destin’s Fayard scored a free throw and St. Vincent hit one as well for a 29-29 game at the buzzer.


In the third quarter, Shoal took the lead outscoring the Marlins eight to seven.


At the start of the fourth, Destin edged ahead with Fayard driving through the paint for a layup followed by a 3-pointer from Newell. Shoal drew a foul and hit one from the line, then Destin’s Price Bowen took the ball inside for a bucket and a 43-38 lead.


Shoal scored on an inside shot then Fayard answered with a shot off the glass as well.


With 2:27 left to play, Shoal went to the line twice and hit three of four shots and then Makhi Jones nailed a 3-pointer to put the Mustangs on top 46-45 with 1:50 left in the game.


In the time remaining, Destin took control and pulled off the win.


Up next for the Marlins is a 7 p.m. game Monday at home against the Ruckel Rams.