Basketball team miraculously wins despite having 2 players remaining on the court


It hasn’t been a good season for the Mustangs of Marion County High School in Missouri.

The team entered its Jan. 23 game against the Hornets of Atlanta High School with just three wins in its first 14 games.  Only having six players available also did not bode well for the Mustangs’ chances of victory.

Still, Marion County found itself ahead 46-40 with three minutes left to play when Carson Bock fouled out. That meant the Mustangs would not have any reserves left on the bench for the rest of the game.

But within the next minute, two more Mustangs fouled out, leaving only three players remaining on the court.

Marion County coach Justin Ellison drew up a “triangle” defense for his remaining players, but that strategy didn’t work for too long when Landen Holt became the fourth Mustangs player to foul out of the game.

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With just 40 seconds remaining and the game tied at 48, Marion County had only two players available on the court — Ty Bowdish and Alex Huffman. What chance would two players have against five opponents?

A team being forced to play with just two players is extremely rare at any level of basketball, so the fact it happened to Marion County made the game newsworthy by itself.

What’s really amazing, however, is Marion County’s two remaining players somehow managed to pull off a 51-50 victory for the Mustangs.

According to a game recap compiled by The Herald-Whig of Quincy, Illinois, Bowdish made two free throws with 15 seconds remaining to put Marion County ahead, 50-48. Brynn Baker made two free throws on Atlanta’s next possession to tie the game at 50.

The 5-on-2 defense forced a Marion County turnover, and the Mustangs committed a foul with five seconds remaining. Atlanta would go to the line in a double bonus, meaning they would have two free throws.

However, both Atlanta free throws were no good.

Bowdish grabbed the defensive rebound and, despite being quadruple-teamed, dribbled the length of the floor. He was fouled with 1.4 seconds remaining.

He missed the first free throw but made the second.

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The Hornets had one final chance, but a half-court desperation shot missed at the buzzer to clinch the victory for Marion County.

Bowdish certainly earned the team’s MVP honors for this game. He scored the final 15 points of the game for the Mustangs and led all scorers with 28.

Mustangs coach Justin Ellison said the victory was unlike any he had ever experienced.

“Been playing, watching, coaching basketball at a lot of different levels. I’ve never seen anything like I did tonight,” Ellison said on his protected Twitter account after the game. “I’m proud of the way we battled.”

For the Hornets, an already rough season got worse. The team that somehow lost despite having three more players on the court saw its record fall to 2-11.

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Scott Kelnhofer is a writer for The Western Journal and Conservative Tribune. A native of Milwaukee, he currently resides in Phoenix.
Scott Kelnhofer is a writer for The Western Journal and Conservative Tribune. He has more than 20 years of experience in print and broadcast journalism. A native of Milwaukee, he has resided in Phoenix since 2012.
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