MABTON - The Mabton High School varsity boys basketball team struggled to finish off a pair of strong starts in two 10-minute jamboree contests at home last night.
The 1A Vikings opened the night by surging out to a 9-0 lead over 1A counterpart Kiona-Benton.
"We were very patient. We ran the floor and our offense very well," noted Mabton Coach Brock Ledgerwood, who guided the Vikes to a fifth-place finish at State last season. "We had our intensity up and we just executed the things we worked on in practice."
The early flash fizzled as the visiting Bears clawed back with a 26-2 run on the way to a 26-11 victory.
Ledgerwood attributed the swoon to complacency after his team grabbed the big early lead.
"We dropped our intensity and got complacent," he observed. "Once we did that we couldn't pick it back up."
Zach Peralez led Mabton with three points in the opener.
It was same story second verse in the nightcap against 1B Liberty Christian, as Mabton had the lead up until the final minute before the guests rallied late for a 17-17 tie.
There are no overtime periods permitted in the mini-contests, which do not count on the team's overall records.
"We had more of a complete game there (against Liberty Christian) but we didn't take care of the ball very well," said Ledgerwood. "We took some bad shots and had some early season mistakes."
Even so, the coach was pleased with the way his team rallied from the rout at the hands of Kiona-Benton in the opener.
"We rebounded well from the first loss and played with intensity throughout," he said. Gael Sosa and Frankie Smith led Mabton with five points apiece.
Ledgerwood said he wasn't surprised by his team's miscues, given that the season is so young.
"We haven't really focused on game situations yet," he noted. "There are some things you can't learn until you're in a game, like trying to protect a lead. We expect to make mistakes and learn from them as we go."
The Mabton boys and girls teams were originally scheduled to play at home this Friday, Nov. 30, against Royal. Both games have since been rescheduled to Tuesday, Dec. 11, because Royal's football team is in the State 1A football final this week.