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Mustang Basketball: Oxarart, Williamson earn MVP honors

 

Junior Kooper Oxarart was named the Mustang's Offensive MVP in their 2019-20 campaign. Photo by Pierre Bibbs.

The 2019-20 season for the Mustangs was a real rollercoaster ride type of a season. We started the season against two-time defending state champion Bigfork Vikings at the Coyote Classic in Shelby. Going into that game, the coaching staff did not know what to expect. Our team was young and without a lot of experience as we were starting two seniors, a junior, and two sophomores. The lack of experience did not matter; the Mustangs went out there and played an amazing game defeating Bigfork 65-52.

After the Bigfork contest, the coaching staff and I knew this Mustang team could have a good run this year. However, our season quickly derailed due to the injuries. Our first significant injury accorded against the Wolf Point Wolves right after Christmas break. Tanner Smith went up for an offensive rebound and twisted his ankle. I have seen many sprained ankles in my day, and this is up there with one of the worst I have seen, but it did not matter Tanner got taped up and helped his team defeat Wolf Point in a critical conference game. In this game, Tanner showed great courage, toughness, and competitiveness, coming back playing on his injured ankle. However, Tanner had to miss three games due to his injury. During the time of Tanner's absence, we went 0-3.

Once we got Tanner back, we thought we were once again ready to roll. We defeated our rivals Glasgow 54-41 in another critical conference game. However, the next contest against Shelby, Rex Williamson, who is our starting point guard, injured his knee. This injury sidelined Rex for the entire second half of the season, and he wasn't able to return until the Northern B Divisional Tournament. During the time of Rex's absence, we struggle only to win two of our last eight games.

During the tough second half of our season, our kids never quit working hard. This group showed vast perseverance all season. It would have been easy for this group of kids to give up at any point in the season, but they never quit. They continued to battle every single day to get better. Them battling through these difficult obstacles and showed the real character of our 2019-20 Mustangs.

During the Divisional Tournament, the Mustangs finally saw their hard work pay off. In the Saturday morning loser-out game, we played Harlem, who had defeated us twice this season and one time by 27 points. Once again, we found some unfortunate luck as Connor Tuss injured his knee in pre-game. Yet again, we were short another starter, but just like this team did all season, they battled through adversity and defeated the Wildcats 59-54. This game Kooper Oxarart had the game of his career scoring 29 points and shot 5/11 from the three point line. With this victory, we had an opportunity to play to get into the state tournament, but we just fell a little short.

The theme for this year was mental toughness. I thought this team was extremely mentally tough and determined. The group followed their leaders. Our two leaders of our team were our two seniors Tanner Smith and Ben Costin. These two have played a massive part in Mustang basketball in the last four seasons. First, when they were part of the 2017 state championship team, but even more importantly, the leadership they displayed this season helped better this team throughout the season. Tanner Smith is one of the hardest workers I have seen. Tanner's motor never quits, and this made the rest of the team work even harder. Now for our second senior, Ben. No one matched Ben's competitiveness. I think he got that trait from my wife. He was the ideal teammate as he would do whatever it took to win from scoring, playing defense, or distributing the basketball to his teammates. Ben's competitiveness raised the level of practice each day. I also have to recognize our third senior on our team, Ezra Judd. Ezra has been our manager for the last four years. A manager like Ezra makes our lives as coaches easy. He knew what needed to be done, and he did it without being told. Thank you, Tanner, Ben, and Ezra, for all you have done for Mustang basketball during these last four seasons.

I know I would like to thank my assistant coaches Travis Somerfeld and Zach Handley. I could not coach without these two, and they play an essential role in Mustang basketball. I would also want to thank Danie Rhoads, who was our other manager. She spent countless hours doing our kid's laundry and other things behind the scenes. Most importantly, I want to thank my wife, Coleen, who has allowed me to coach the past 25 plus years.

It was a great year, and I am fortunate to have coached this group of amazing kids.

-David Costin

 

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