YAKIMA - The Mabton High School boys basketball team grabbed a firm hold on the second seed in the Greater Columbia 'B' League's Northern Division with a huge road win last night.
Even with an impressive night from Andy Rodriguez, the Vikings got past LaSalle with one thing that has been lacking in some recent games-teamwork.
The Vikings threw the individual statistics out the door last night to claim an impressive 48-46 road victory in the always hard-to-win home of LaSalle.
"That was a good win for us," said Mabton Coach Brock Ledgerwood. "We finally started to play some defense."
With the win, the Vikings are now 6-1 in league play and 8-4 on the season. Mabton's only conference loss is to league-leading Riverside Christian, the top 'B' boys basketball team in the state. LaSalle dropped to 4-2 in league with Sunnyside Christian sitting in fourth place at 1-4, tied with Yakama Tribal.
Rodriguez was phenomenal last night for the Vikings, said Ledgerwood. Rodriguez had a season-high 13 points. He also had six rebounds and three assists. Rodriguez went 6-of-7 from the field.
After ending the first quarter trailing 13-3, Rodriguez led the spark that pulled Mabton back into the game. Rodriguez dropped in nine points in the second quarter and teammate A.J. Valencia had two 3-pointers. Mabton ended up trailing 29-21 at the break.
Mabton's problem in the first quarter was that the ball just wouldn't fall through the hoop.
"We got some real good shots," said Ledgerwood. "We just couldn't get them to go."
In the second quarter, Ledgerwood said Rodriguez dominated the high post against LaSalle's 2-3 zone.
"He really got us back in it," said Ledgerwood.
Mabton outscored the Lightning 20-12 in the second half to tie the game at 41-all, forcing an extra session. The Vikings actually had a chance to win the game, but missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with five seconds left.
Rodriguez came out and made the first bucket of overtime and the Vikings never trailed, outscoring LaSalle 7-5 in OT. The Lightning missed a 3-point shot right at the buzzer to end the game.
Zavala and Valencia each had 10 points for Mabton. Zavala was big at the free throw line in the fourth quarter and overtime, going 3-for-4.
Besides the extraordinary teamwork Mabton showed last night, Ledgerwood said the real key was the poise shown by his team. LaSalle went into a stall mode in the second half, but Ledgerwood said his team kept its composure.
"We never panicked," said Ledgerwood. "We really kind of wore them down at the end. We just kept coming."
The Vikings will play host this Friday to the southern division's top team, Trout Lake. Mabton then travels to Toppenish on Saturday for a non-league game.
. Mike Kantman can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
1 2 3 4 5 T
Mabton 3 18 11 9 7 48
LaSalle 13 16 8 4 5 46
Scoring: Mabton-Andy Rodriguez 13, Alex Zavala 10, A.J. Valencia 10, Ricardo Huecias 5, Frankie Mariscal 5, Manuel Palacios 3, Ryan Harris 2.
LaSalle-Montana Sanchez 13.
Rebounds: Andy Rodriguez 6, Ricardo Huecias 5.
Assists: Pedro Huecias 4, Andy Rodriguez 3.
Steals: A.J. Valencia 3.
Ricardo Huecias also took three charges in the game.