It wasn't a District title and an automatic berth to the State 'B' tournament, but the Mabton High Schools boys basketball team got the next best thing.
The Vikings ended up second at this past weekend's Greater Columbia 'B' League District tournament at Sunnyside High School, losing to Riverside Christian 41-36 in the championship game. The loss gave the Vikings a first-round Regional playoff bye. Mabton will face the winner of the Trout Lake vs. Mansfield game Saturday night at Ellensburg High School at 7:45 p.m. for the final playoff spot to the State 'B' tournament.
Mabton earned a spot in the District championship game by outlasting Trout Lake in the late game Friday night, 64-54. Riverside Christian gained a spot in the championship game by sneaking past Sunnyside Christian.
"I was really proud of our kids," said Mabton Coach Brock Ledgerwood. "We are in great shape. We just didn't get a few breaks (during the District tournament)."
Friday night's game against Trout Lake saw a rather even first half, with the Vikings leading 31-29 at the break.
"It was kid of back and forth in the first half," said Ledgerwood. "There was not a lot of defense. Both teams were attacking the basket."
It wasn't until the last three minutes of the third quarter that the Vikings started to develop more of an offensive flow. In the fourth quarter, Mabton started attacking the 2-1-2 zone of the Mustangs by going to Andy Rodriguez in the high post. Rodriguez scored on three-of-four consecutive possessions to push Mabton ahead. Rodriguez scored all 8 of his points in the fourth quarter. The Vikes hit some free throws down the stretch, as they outscored Trout Lake 20-11 in the final period for the win.
The championship game was a bit different as Riverside Christian played a lot smarter game this time than when the Crusaders lost at Mabton during the regular season a few weeks ago.
Both teams scored only 13 points in the first half.
"Both teams shot terrible in the first half," said Ledgerwood. "There was a lot of good defense being played."
George Graham came off the bench in the second quarter to keep the Crusaders in the game. Graham scored all six points for Riverside Christian, including a 3-pointer with under two minutes to play in the first half.
Ledgerwood said Riverside Christian played a 1-2-2 zone, but the Crusaders were happy with letting Mabton stay out on the perimeter. Ledgerwood said the Vikings were unable to attack the bucket.
The Horsley brothers, Matt and Josh, were huge for Riverside Christian in the second half. Josh Horsley scored 7 of his 12 points in the third quarter and Matt Horsley had a 3-point bucket that dictated the rest of the game.
The Vikes were down by one point with under 40 seconds to play in the third period. Matt Horsley stole the ball on the Mabton possession and drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the third quarter from half court. Matt Horsley scored all 7 of his points in the second half, as well. Ledgerwood said the Vikings were never able to get back on track after that 3-point shot by Matt Horsely at the end of the third quarter. The Crusaders outscored Mabton 12 to 8 in the third quarter.
Ledgerwood said he doesn't know much about Mansfield except it started the season off slow and has been playing very well lately. Ledgerwood said he feels good about Mabton's chances against either Mansfield or Trout Lake.
1 2 3 4 T
Mabton 14 17 13 20 64
Trout Lake 16 13 14 11 54
Scoring: Mabton-A.J. Valencia 16, Ricardo Huecias 16, Alex Zavala 10, Andy Rodriguez 8, Manuel Palacios 7, Pedro Huecias 3, Frankie Mariscal 2, Ryan Harris 2.
Trout Lake-Mike Hansen 17.
Rebounds-Andy Rodriguez 7, Alex Zavala 6.
Assists: Alex Zavala 4, Pedro Huecias 4.
Steals: Pedro Huecias 4.
1 2 3 4 T
Mabton 7 6 8 15 36
Riverside 7 6 12 16 41
Scoring: Mabton-A.J. Valencia 9, Alex Zavala 9, Andy Rodriguez 7, Ricardo Huecias 5, Pedro Huecias 2, Ryan Harris 2, Manuel Palacios 2.
Riverside-Josh Horsley 12.
Rebounds: Andy Rodriguez 6.
Assists: Andy Rodriguez 3.