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Vikings tame league leading Zillah Leopards

MABTON - The Mabton boys basketball team last Friday got some revenge for the Dec. 22 loss to the Zillah Leopards, defeating the visitors 56-51.

The Vikings got an early jump against Zillah when Mabton took a quick 6-2 lead. The Leopards just as quickly closed the score to a 6-all tie before Mabton stretched it to 10-6 to end the first quarter.

The Vikings used a 17-8 second quarter run to lead by as many as 13 points before halftime.

Mabton's defense did a good job on the SCAC West's leading scorer. Zillah's Chris Gasseling averages 22 points per game but the Vikings held him scoreless in the first half with only three shot attempts.

In the second half Mabton played even for the first few minutes until finally opening up a 15-point lead. The Leopards still had some fight left in them and closed the deficit to just eight points on a 7-0 run with four minutes left in the third.

Mabton came right back when Juventino Morfin sparked a 9-0 Viking run with five straight points. The Vikings held a 13-point lead after three quarters.

Behind a blistering full-court press the Leopards mounted a comeback, going on a 14-1 run to even things up at 44-all.

Three points from the free throw line by Eric Tellez and a Morfin lay-up gave the Vikings the lead back and they wouldn't relinquish it again. The Vikings used solid free throw shooting down the stretch to pull off the win.

"Eleven of our 13 points in the fourth quarter came from the free throw line," Mabton Coach Brock Ledgerwood said. "Although we were only 11-for-19 from the line in the quarter, we hit 6-of-8 in the final two minutes to seal the game."

Morfin led the Vikings with nine points, five assists and six rebounds. Quintero added seven points and eight rebounds. Tellez had seven points, six rebounds and four assists, and Tyler Herrera, Frankie Smith and Enrique Huecias each contributed seven points.

Mabton out rebounded the Leopards 32 to 24.

"I'm so proud of the effort our kids gave against Zillah," Ledgerwood said. "This was a total team win."

Saturday, Mabton hosted the winless Cle Elum Warriors and made quick work of it, beating them 69-38.

The Vikings jumped to a 20-point lead midway through the second quarter but faltered a bit on defense as the Warriors cut the lead to 13 points before halftime.

In the third quarter Mabton stretched its lead by five points but it was a huge 25-12 fourth quarter run that ended any hopes of a Warrior comeback.

Tellez led the Vikings with 17 points, six rebounds and five assists. He was followed by Morfin with 15 points and four steals. Herrera added eight points and five steals for Mabton.

"This is the kind of game coaches worry about," Ledgerwood said. "Playing a winless team the night after a huge emotional victory is prime time for a let down. I was very happy with my bench and the younger kids. We are a bit banged up across the board and this was a great opportunity to rest a few of our starters and get some young kids some varsity experience."

Ledgerwood said the two wins were huge in Mabton's chase for the playoffs. The Vikings are now tied with Highland in the SCAC West and are in control of their own destiny.

Mabton (6-4, 8-9) will travel to Naches Valley Friday, Feb. 2, and then take on Granger Saturday, Feb. 3, at the Yakima Sundome.

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