MABTON - Using the fast break and being extremely stingy on defense, the Mabton Vikings jumped to a 20-12 first quarter lead en route to a 54-36 win over the Highland Scotties Tuesday evening. The win moved the Vikings into a three-way tie with Goldendale and Highland for third place in the SCAC West Division standings.
"Thanks to our intensity on defense we jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead in the first 1:30 of the game," Mabton Coach Brock Ledgerwood said.
The Vikings shot 9-for-11 from the field in the first quarter, thanks in part to its defense which set up numerous fast break opportunities.
Ledgerwood gave Tyler Herrera a lot of credit for the fast start.
"Herrera played an excellent all-around game for us," he explained. "On top of his career high 18 points, Tyler got us going early with his intensity defensively and by being aggressive running the floor on the fast break."
Mabton stretched its lead to 34-23 at halftime and a 12-6 third quarter made it 46-29 with just one quarter to play.
"Our defensive intensity was key," Ledgerwood said. "We were able to create numerous scoring opportunities off of turnovers and we executed our fast break offense efficiently."
He added the patience his team showed on offense helped the defense by limiting Highland's scoring opportunities, which allowed Mabton to hold the Scotties under 40 points.
Throughout the game the Vikings shot 49 percent (23-for-47) from the field, 43 percent (3-for-7) from the three-point arc and was a solid 5-for-6 from the free throw line.
Mabton's offense kept the turnovers low, only 14 of them in the game, while the defense created 27 turnovers. Highland did manage to out rebound the Vikings, 26 to 24.
Herrera had five steals and grabbed five rebounds to go with his 18 points. Juventino Morfin added 12 points, five steals and five assists for the Vikings. Teammate Enrique Huecias added 10 points, all in the first half.
Patrick Newman (13 points) and David Olivera (12 points) led the Scotties.
"We control our own destiny now," Ledgerwood said.
He said if the Vikings beat Goldendale this Thursday, they can secure a third place finish and a bye in the loser-out games before the District tournament.
"Goldendale will be a tough test," he said. "We gave up 66 points in a loss to them a few weeks ago so we must show up with intensity and step up to secure our district positioning."
Mabton (7-6, 9-11) will host Goldendale this Thursday, Feb. 8, at 7:30 p.m.