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Malta boys ready for State B tourney fresh off second straight division title

Posted at 9:06 PM, Mar 07, 2023

SHELBY — The Malta Mustangs have one more tournament to get ready for. That's the state tournament down in Great Falls. But for now, they're celebrating last week's Northern B championship.

The Malta boys have secured the No. 1 seed from the North for the second straight year. For 16th year coach Dave Costin, there was a lot of growth from the Mustangs even in just one weekend.

"We played a little bit harder and played a little bit smarter," Costin said of his Mustangs. "I think with these young kids, it's just go out and play. Our message at the end year is always go have some fun. If we're having fun, good things are happening. This was a great atmosphere for basketball. The intensity was all weekend, and I thought our kids really stepped up."

For the championship game, Malta got past Wolf Point in a narrow 61-57 win in what was about as close a game as you can draw: No double-digit leads, two first half buzzer beaters, equal scoring in the second and third quarters, and a forth quarter where the Mustangs went in down five and outscored the Wolves 22-13 to secure the win.

It's certainly cause for celebration, but now they've got the Class B state tournament to get ready for, and after winning another divisional title, they're playing together as a family and ready for the trip to Great Falls this week.

"It was definitely one of my best games in my life, for sure," senior Eli Hanson said about the championship game. "It feels really good. I mean, I'm glad we could do it. I'm thankful for my team and really glad we can do it. We got better at our free throws and we came together as a team and we played as a family and that's what got us the win."

The Mustangs will be going for their first title since 2017. Malta's first-round game will be against Lame Deer on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. Wolf Point won a Northern B challenge game Monday on a buzzer-beater and will face Columbus on Thursday at 10:30 a.m.