Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Pierre Bibbs
Sports Editor 

Malta wins 2020 Northern B Title in Shelby


March 11, 2020

Pierre Bibbs

The 2020 Northern B Divisional Girls Champion Malta M-ettes! Standing pictured left to right: Assistant Coach Mardee Scott, Manager Lavida White, Head Coach Nate Hammond, Kylie Hunter, Addy Anderson, Erica Smith, Maddie Williamson, Sidney Meeks, Carly Garfield, Kelbee Denham, Kaylee Bishop, Allison Kunze, Kylee Nelson, Alternate Aubri Werk, Alternate Lauren Tuss, Skylie Lefdahl, Manager Rylee Hines, Justine Lamb, and Assistant Coach Shane Anderson. Kneeling left to right: Camryn Messerly, Alexis Baublitz, Celine Crasco, Makiya Wilke, Kailey Crowder, Tia Siewing, Keena Reed, and Jordan Markuson.

For the first time since 2017, not only are the Malta M-ettes headed to state; there are headed to state as the Northern B Divisional Champions.

The M-ettes defeated the hometown Shelby Coyotes 47-38 in the divisional championship game last Saturday, March 7, at Shelby High School.

"It means the world," Malta senior captain Kelbee Denham said. "We have worked so hard these past few years. Everyone underestimates us and it is just good to come out here and show them what we are made of and what we can do."

Denham and senior Co-Captain Carly Garfield were both freshmen when Malta won their last Northern B Title during Malta's state finals run in 2017.

"It feels amazing," Garfield said. "We haven't been to State since my freshman year when we had Sophie (Sophia Stiles) and that class and after that, it was tough because we lost some pretty good players and we have been trying to rebuild our team but now we have an amazing team, the entire bench is so good. I am proud of all of us and we definitely deserve this."

The M-ettes have now won their fourth Northern B Divisional title in six years.

Malta was dominant throughout the tournament winning their first two games by at least 20 points. Malta defeated the Rocky Boy Morning Stars 56-36 in the opening round of the event and then went on to defeat the Fairfield Eagles 67-44 in the semi-final round to reach the championship game.

"It feels awesome to be a freshman and being able to experience this," freshman Allie Kunze said.

In their championship game, Malta was led by freshman Kylee Nelson, who scored 10 points, including two treys in the fourth quarter. Nelson was asked about her approach offensively and what goes through her head when attacking.

"I am going to make it," Nelson said. "I have the confidence that the ball is going in and it will."

Defensively, Nelson had four of Malta's nine steals and four assists.

"We learned in practice how to play better man defense," Nelson said. "We have been playing better defense through districts and divisionals and it has helped us."

Kunze had nine points and six rebounds. Kunze made three of her four field-goal attempts.

Junior Erica Smith had eight points and two three-point field goals. Freshman Addy Anderson had six points, which included one three-pointer. Garfield had four points and five rebounds. Junior Justine Lamb had four points, six rebounds, and one block. Freshman Maddie Williamson had four points and Junior Kylie Hunter had three points and three rebounds.

"It was never giving up, always putting pressure on the ball, and being more intense than them," Denham said after the game. "Our bench came out and was amazing. Everyone was loud. Everybody puts in work for everything."

Though Malta led throughout most of the first quarter, Shelby was able to jump ahead of Malta 13-10 within the last minute of the period.

Malta responded with a stifling defensive effort in the second and third quarter, that only gave up five points in the second and seven in the third.

Offensively Malta scored 17 points in the second quarter and 10 in the third. Shelby found some rhythm in the fourth quarter, outscoring Malta 13-10 in the fourth.

Malta was 18-of-42 (43 percent) from the field in their win. The M-ettes also outrebounded the Lady Coyotes 33 to 25.

The Malta M-ettes handed the Fairfield Lady Eagles their first loss of the tournament. Later the Eagles would be eliminated by Glasgow.

"Fairfield is one of our biggest rivals other than Glasgow, so it felt really good to get a win over them," Denham said. "Two years ago, they took us out of the divisional tournament, so coming back and beating them felt really good."

The Lady Eagles' offense drew 25 fouls and made it to the charity stripe for 45 attempts, turning Malta's game into a learning experience.

"We learned that we have to switch on screens right away," said Garfield.

Malta was led by Williamson who scored 16 points. Nelson had 10 points, five rebounds, and one block. Lamb had nine points and 10 rebounds.

Malta shot 24-of-51 (47 percent) from the field, while Fairfield was 8-of-37 (22 percent).

Fairfield led 12-9 at the conclusion of the first period, and from the beginning, the team drove the rim over and over again drawing foul after foul.

Malta shot significantly better in the final three quarters, outscoring Fairfield 20-14 in the second quarter, 20-11 in the third quarter, and 18-7 in the fourth quarter.

With starters in foul trouble, Malta's bench came through with 35 points. Despite Fairfield's approach, Malta had no foul outs and scored 20 seconds chance points.

Pierre Bibbs

Malta seniors Carly Garfield and Kelbee Denham present the 2020 Northern B Divisional trophy to the crowd.

In a less physical game, the M-ettes defeated Rocky Boy 56-36.

The M-ettes were led by Nelson who had ten points. Lamb was one point shy of a double-double with nine points and ten rebounds. Lamb also had two steals. Garfield and Kunze each had eight points and seven rebounds. Garfield had two steals.

Malta was pretty even as far as scoring goes, a trend that continued throughout the tournament.

"We all work together on scoring," Kunze said. "We don't really care who scores the most, we just go out there and play."

The teams played back in forth in the first half with Malta scoring 23 and Rocky Boy netting 19. Malta pulled away in the third period outscoring the Morning Stars 17-9 in the quarter. Malta would shut the doors on any comeback attempt in the fourth scoring 16 points and holding Rocky Boy to eight.


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