MATTAWA-The Mabton High School boys basketball team claimed another victory, but it was a lot closer than some might have expected.
The Vikings traveled to Wahluke Tuesday for their final non-league game of the season. Mabton posted a 74-70 victory to move to 9-0 on the season (2-0 in Greater Columbia 'B' League play).
Mabton boys basketball coach Brock Ledgerwood said the Warriors came out with a different zone defense, a 2-3 set, that caused the Vikings to cough up the ball a few times.
Another problem for the Vikings on Tuesday came at the free throw line.
Mabton sent Wahluke to the free throw line 16 times, from where the Warriors sank 14 shots. The Vikings went 12-for-18 at the free throw line. Ledgerwood said Mabton gave up a lot of fouls after a bucket, which helped keep the Warriors in the game.
But in the end, Wahluke was no match for the 3-point shooting of the Vikings. Mabton shot 12-for-23 from the 3-point line.
"I think that really helped us," said Ledgerwood.
The long bomb was especially deadly for the Vikings in the third quarter. A total of 15 of the 17 points Mabton scored to start the second half came from behind the 3-point line.
A.J. Valencia exploded on Wahluke in the second half, scoring 21 of his 27 points in the last two periods. Valencia was dead on from 3-point land, hitting 6-of-10 from downtown. Valencia also had five rebounds and six assists.
"He got pretty hot," said Ledgerwood.
Teammate Andy Rodriguez had a nice first half, scoring 12 of his 15 points.
Mabton relinquished the lead late in the third quarter when Wahluke pulled ahead by two. Mabton climbed back on top when Rodriguez nailed a 3-pointer right at the end of the third quarter, and Alex Zavala, who scored 14 points, opened the fourth quarter with a long bomb.
"I wasn't really worried (when Wahluke took the lead)," said Ledgerwood. "As a coach, I don't worry when we are down."
Mabton also had an outstanding effort on the boards, outrebounding Wahluke 29 to 16.
Ledgerwood said the key in the game was how well his team played together. He said each of his players did a nice job of creating openings for their teammates.
The Vikings will have somewhat of a rest before going back into league play. Mabton travels to Trout Lake on Jan. 7 before playing LaSalle at home the following night.
1 2 3 4 T
Mabton 11 22 17 21 74
Wahluke 9 18 18 23 70
Scoring: Mabton-A.J. Valencia 27, Andy Rodriguez 15, Alex Zavala 14, Ryan Harris 7, Ruben Mejia 3, Ricardo Mejia 3, Pedro Huecias 3, Eric Tellez 2.
Wahluke-Chris Ziegler 21.
Rebounds: Alex Zavala 8, Andy Rodriguez 7, Eric Tellez 6 A.J. Valencia 5.
Assists: A.J. Valencia 6, Andy Rodriguez 4, Alex Zavala 4, Pedro Huecias 4.