MATTAWA - The weary but battle-tested Mabton Lady Vikings didn't go down without a fight last Saturday afternoon.
Playing Goldendale in a loser-out District tourney game at Wahluke High School, Mabton scrapped and scratched to the very end, before finally succumbing to the Timberwolves, 43-41.
"I told the kids to go down swinging," said Mabton Coach Mike Roettger. "We played hard. Goldendale had to earn it against us."
Saturday's game plan was to contain Goldendale's two big girls, 6'0" Monica DeRushe and 5'11" Kayla Graf. The last time the two clubs met the duo combined for 35 points. Saturday, DeRushe and Graf were limited to just 24 points.
"I was pretty happy with that," said Roettger, explaining that his girls basketball team packed the paint with four players in an effort to stop DeRushe and Graf.
In the waning moments of the loser-out contest, down by four, Roettger employed a press against the Timberwolves. The one turnover the press generated resulted in Mabton pulling to within two points. Unfortunately for the Lady Vikes, they were unable to stop Goldendale from crossing the half-court line other than the one jump ball they forced the Timberwolves into.
The telling point of the game, said Roettger, was Mabton's inability to score at crucial times.
"We couldn't buy a bucket when it counted," he said.
Roettger believes part of the problem for the scoring woes was the leg-weariness of his club.
"We didn't have any legs," he noted, saying last Thursday's game at league champion Granger basically took the stuffing out of his players.
"The game against Granger was a battle. It took everything out of us.
"It did the same thing to Granger. They didn't have any legs left against Burbank on Saturday, either, and ended up losing by 17 to a team they should have beat," said Roettger.
Yet, despite heading into Saturday's game without a full head of steam, the Lady Vikes gave Goldendale all it could handle. Riding the double-digit scoring of junior Ana Jimenez and freshman Crysta Reynolds, Mabton found itself up by two after the first quarter, and ahead 21-20 at the half.
Jimenez, just last week named the SCAC West's MVP for 2007-08, finished the District contest with a team-high 13 points. The underclassman Reynolds was just a point back with 12 in the scoring column.
The Timberwolves outscored Mabton by a 14-10 margin in the third quarter, only to watch as the Lady Vikings kept things interesting by putting up 10 points in the final stanza, compared to Goldendale's nine-point effort in the final period.
"My kids played their hearts out," said Roettger. "They played hard, never gave up. I couldn't be more proud of the way they went out."
Mabton finishes the 2007-08 campaign with an overall mark of 13-11.