MABTON - Highland's in and the Mabton Lady Vikings are out.
Last night, the Scotties avenged an earlier defeat this season to Mabton to knock the Lady Vikes out of the playoff picture. Highland eked out a 49-45 victory on the road to mathematically eliminate the Mabton High girls basketball team from qualifying for the postseason. In the process, the Scotties (6-7, 11-9) lifted themselves off the playoff bubble and secured at the very least the SCAC West Division's fifth and final berth into the District tournament.
"Now we're just playing for pride," Mabton Coach Mike Roettger said of his club's final game of the season set for this coming Thursday against visiting Goldendale.
"We need to go out and take care of business Thursday. The message I'll be giving our kids is, let's end the season on a good note. A win will give us something positive to build on in the off season," said Roettger.
A win is what most Mabton fans figured their team would come away with last night, after watching the Lady Vikes scramble back from an 18-9 first quarter deficit to forge a 30-23 lead at the half.
"Things were looking bright," said Roettger. "We got down early, mostly because Highland came up with 13 offensive rebounds in the first quarter. But we held them to just one offensive rebound in the second quarter to get back into it."
Mabton also received a nifty offensive performance from 5'6" sophomore guard Ana Jimenez in the second period to help overtake the Scotties. Jimenez lit up the scoreboard for eight points in that period, eventually producing a team high 17-point effort.
The victory still seemed well in reach for Mabton when the two clubs entered the fourth quarter with the Lady Vikes up 36-33. A 16-9 run by the visiting Scotties in the final period, however, spelled doom for the home team.
Sparking that last quarter outburst for Highland was Lindsey Adams, who popped in eight of her game high 19 points down the stretch. Adams connected on two 3-point shots in the final stanza and sank 2-of-2 from the free throw line.
"She came up big for them," Roettger said.
Highland ended up edging ahead of the Lady Vikes in the final few minutes, but in the closing seconds Mabton made a final push to make a game of it. The Lady Vikings clawed back to within two, only to miss a game-tying putback with five seconds showing on the clock. A Scottie defender rebounded the errant shot, and Mabton quickly fouled her.
"Unfortunately for us, she made both free throws to ice the game," said Roettger.
One of the telling statistics for Mabton last night came from the foul line. The Lady Vikes missed 16 of their shots from the charity stripe, making only 15-of-31 attempts.
"That didn't help the cause at all," Roettger said.
Mabton (4-9, 8-12) is scheduled to host Goldendale (1-12, 5-14) tomorrow night, with tip-off slated for 6 p.m.
Highland 18 5 10 16 -49
Mabton 9 21 6 9 -45
Highland: Lindsey Adams 19.
Mabton: Reynolds 0, Campbell 7, Flores 6, Jimenez 17, Sotelo 8, Tellez 0, T. Williams 7, Martinez 0.