TROUT LAKE - In basketball, some teams simply cause other teams match-up problems. Also, things aren't easy when one has to travel on the road during a school night.
The Mabton High School boys basketball team overcame both problems last night and beat a determined Trout Lake squad last night, 69-65.
"It was an up and down game," said Mabton Coach Brock Ledgerwood. "They really controlled the tempo a lot. Their motion offense hurt us."
The first half was a battle on both sides of the ball. The Mustangs forged a 22-18 first quarter lead. The Vikings fought back to take a two-point lead at the half.
Ledgerwood said the problem for Mabton in the first half was it complacent defense. Ledgerwood said he didn't know if it was the long bus ride or the early game time at 6 p.m, but his defense just didn't show up.
The story of the game for Mabton was the outstanding play of Alex Zavala and Andy Rodriguez. The two Viking standouts combined for 43 points. Zavala dropped in 22 and Rodriguez had 21.
The Mustangs, though, kept Mabton's other part of the dangerous scoring trio, A.J. Valencia, quiet. Valencia had just four points on the night.
"It did kind of seem when they left him (Valencia) open we didn't do a good job of finding him," said Ledgerwood. "But A.J. contributed in other ways."
The Vikings were really helped out in the first half by the play of Ryan Harris and Pedro Huecias, who scored six and five in the opening two quarters. Harris also had a big night on the boards with nine rebounds.
Trout Lake provided a balanced scoring attack, led by Ben Steward and Matt Deardan, both dropping in 18 points apiece.
Ledgerwood said Mabton had trouble with the speed of Trout Lake.
"They beat us down the court," said Ledgerwood. "They use their speed very well."
In the first half, Ledgerwood switched to a zone defense the last two minutes of the second quarter that got Mabton back into the game.
The Vikings expanded on their two-point lead at the break with a 16-13 run in the third quarter. Trout Lake won the final period 11-10.
Free throw shooting was also crucial for Mabton. The Vikings nailed 13-of-17 shots from the charity stripe, going 8-for-9 in the second half. Trout Lake was just 3-for-4 from the free throw line for the game. Ledgerwood said it was crucial for his team to keep Trout Lake off the free throw line.
Mabton was leading 63-57 with four minutes to go, but Trout Lake was able to tie the game with just under two minutes left.
"We had some poor shot selection," said Ledgerwood.
A basket from Rodriguez and free throws from Valencia and Zavala put the game away.
Mabton (5-1, 12-1) will host Lyle this Friday night.