YAKIMA - A win is a win. The Mabton Vikings tied a 1A State tournament record for the lowest winning score when they beat the Onalaska Loggers 32-28 today (Thursday) in game that featured lots of defense, lots of turnovers and very few points.
"The key to this game was we got a lead and were able to control the tempo," Mabton Coach Brock Ledgerwood said.
Most of the scoring was done in the first half as Mabton built an 11-4 lead after one quarter.
Led by Tyler Herrera, the Vikings were able to build a 20-15 lead at halftime, thanks in part to stellar defensive play by Enrique Huecias. He was able to hold the Loggers' leading scorer, Trent Atkins, scoreless in the first half.
"We talked about him (Atkins) this morning," Ledgerwood said. "Enrique has been our leading defensive stopper all year. Atkins likes to attack the basket but every time he tried he found Enrique in front of him. He was able to keep pressure on him and keep him from getting any good looks."
The Vikings shot 43 percent from the field in the first half but Onalaska was able to stay close thanks to Torben Wendt, who drained 13 points in the first half.
"We shot the ball well and played good defense in the first half," Ledgerwood said.
That changed in the second half as the Vikings struggled to score and started to turn the ball over. The only thing that saved them was the Loggers also had trouble putting the ball in the hoop and turned the ball over just as much as Mabton did in the second half.
In the first 5:18 of the third quarter, the Loggers had outscored the Vikings 4-2. After the Vikings scored a basket with 6:14 left in the quarter, it would take another five minutes before Mabton's Eric Tellez nailed a three to end the scoring for the Vikings in the third.
Up 25-19 to start the fourth period, the Loggers were still in it.
A minute and a half into the quarter Onalaska scored a basket to come within four points.
Two minutes later Herrera hit a free throw, extending the Vikings' lead to 26-21. Then Wendt brought the Loggers to within two points on a three-point play with 4:07 left in the game.
Two minutes later Tellez stole the ball and on a fast break made a lay-up to put Mabton back up by four. The score stayed at 28-24 until Onalaska's Luke Wright hit two free throws to bring the Loggers back to within two points and provide a little drama for Mabton fans.
A Frankie Smith free throw gave Mabton a three-point lead with 29 seconds left and then Heliaz Lovely brought the Loggers to within one point with a bucket with 17 seconds left. That would be as far as they would come as Mabton hit its free throws down the stretch to pull away with the 32-28 win.
"I told my team as long as we have the ball they won't be able to keep up with us, they can't score," Ledgerwood said. "We have a good corps group of kids that do what it takes to win."
Ledgerwood credited Tellez with adjusting to Wendt and becoming more physical with him to keep his scoring down in the second half.
Herrera led the Vikings with 11 points and grabbed six rebounds in the game. Tellez added eight points and had five rebounds. Smith contributed six points and grabbed six rebounds.
Wendt led the Loggers with 13 points and Lovely added eight points for Onalaska.
The win keeps Mabton's hopes of placing at the State tournament alive. They will play Tonasket tomorrow (Friday) at 9 a.m.