Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Pierre Bibbs

Mustangs fall to Shelby in thriller


January 20, 2021

After a few spark plays late in the game against Shelby last Saturday, Malta's bench celebrates. Photo by Pierre Bibbs.

The Mustangs nearly overcame a scoreless third quarter to take down the top ranked Shelby Coyotes in Malta last Saturday, January 16, but ultimately fell 44-40.

Prior to their clash, Malta defeated the Poplar Indians 66-43 behind Mustang senior Kooper Oxarart's 30 point career-high in Poplar on Friday, January 15.

Malta is set to play a pair of road games next week as they take on the Harlem Wildcats in Harlem on Friday, January 22, at 6:30 p.m. and then the Wolf Point Wolves in Wolf Point on Saturday, January 23, at 6 p.m.

In Malta's loss to Shelby, the Mustangs shocked spectators in the stands by outsourcing Shelby 22-9 in the fourth quarter, nearly making up for their scoreless 14-0 outing they had in the third quarter. The Mustangs tied the game 40-40 with 1:15 left, but Shelby scored the final two buckets of the game giving them a 44-40 victory.

The team was led by Pierce Mortenson who scored 11 points, despite being matched against 6'9" Rhett Reynolds, who also scored 11 points.

"I told the kids that when you go against size like that, you can't shy away from that," Coach Costin said. "You have to attack that size. When we went up against him, we were pretty successful."

Coach Costin told the team prior to the game that there will be blocked shots because of the combination of Reynolds and 6'5" Logan Leck.

"No matter what, just keep going at them, keep going at them, keep going at them," Coach Costin said.

The game seemed destined to be over midway through the fourth quarter until a pair of treys by Darrow Messerly ignited the Malta High School gymnasium.

Malta senior Kooper Oxarart scored a career-high of 30 points in Malta's win over Poplar in Poplar last Friday night. Here he passes the ball to the paint. Photo by DoDee Oxarart.

"It all came to Darrow hitting a couple of threes and that got the momentum back for us," Coach Costin said. "That was huge in the fourth quarter."

Messerly hit a total of three three-pointers in the team's run and had a total of nine points in the game. Connor Tuss also had a total of nine points and 15 rebounds. Rex Williamson had seven points, and Oxarart had four points.

The Coyotes were led by Leck, who scored a game-high 24 points, including a game-sealing three-pointer with 44 seconds left in the game.

One night prior, Malta defeated Poplar 66-43 in Poplar. The Mustangs were led by Oxarart who had a career-high 30 points. Williamson had 16 points. Mortenson had five points. Messerly had four points, David Pittman had four points, and Tuss had three points.

"It was fairly competitive until the third quarter," Coach Costin said.

He also said that he felt that Malta's conditioning was the key to their victory, as well as Malta's zone defense.


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