PANAMA CITY - After trailing Niceville 22-14, the Marshals out-scored the Eagles 46-28 in the next three quarters to pick up a win in their opening round game in the Marlin Christmas Classic in Panama City, Florida.
Both teams are former Marlin Classic champions with the Marshals winning the title in 2008 and Niceville in 2007 and 2009.
Marshall County and host team the Arnold Marlins have established a close relationship over the years and Marshall coach Gus Gillespie along with his wife Jana and daughter Garlynn, received a donation from the Marlins to the Gunner's Magic Train Foundation, something that Arnold High School has been doing since the 2008-2009 season.
Niceville led by as many as 12 points in the first quarter but the Marshals managed to pull back to within eight at 22-14 at the end of the quarter.
Austin Rentfrow scored the first four Marshall points of the second quarter to pull the Marshals to within six points and a basket by Casey White cut the Eagles lead to 24-20. A basket by Nathan Solomon closed the gap to 26-24, then free throws by White tied the ballgame up at 26-26, going on to take their first lead of the game following a field goal by Chase Clark. Niceville led 31-30 going into the halftime break.
The Marshals took their biggest lead of the game thus far following a three point shot by Mason Wooten that gave them a 39-33 lead in the third quarter as the Marshals went on to out-score the Eagles 13 to four and take a 43-35 lead going into the final quarter.
Going up by as many as 16 points with just over a minute to play, Niceville put the last seven points on the board to close the Marshals winning margin to 60-50.
In post-game radio comments, Marshall Assistant Coach Brent Lovett felt the Marshals weren't giving their best effort in the first quarter and took three time-outs within two and a half minutes to try to get things turned around.
The Marshals were led in scoring by Rentfrow who recorded a double-double night with 17 points and 12 rebounds. The Marshals had 16 steals in the game and forced 26 Niceville turnovers.
In other Thursday games, Meade County defeated Arnold 57-48, Starr's Mill beat Faith Academy 57-42 and Franklin Road Academy, TN defeated Wren of South Carolina 59-31.
Marshall County will tip-off at 4:30 today in the semi-finals against a talented Starr's Mill team and following the Marshals game Franklin Road Academy will play Meade County.
Marshall: Field Goals 21/51, 3 Pointers 2/12, Free Throws 16/24, Total Rebounds 35, Fouls 8, Assists 13, Turnovers 18, Steals 16
Niceville: Field Goals 22/54, 3 Pointers 5/18, Free Throws 1/3, Total Rebounds 32, Fouls 19, Assists 10, Turnovers 26, Steals 9
Marshall: Rentfrow 17, Clark 13, Wooten 7, Steele 6, White 6, Solomon 5, Barnard 3, Greenfield 2, Pigg 1
Niceville: Haynes 16, Mosley 7, Krist 7, Jones 6, Forbes 3, Amaker 3, Douglas 2, Ellis 2, Drautz 2, Mitchell 2