NACHES - An eight-point effort from junior Ana Jimenez in overtime last night propelled the Mabton High School girls basketball team to a 50-43 SCAC West victory over the Naches Valley Rangers.
Both teams were 1-2 in conference play heading into Tuesday night's match-up, trailing Granger and Zillah in the league standings. The win, said Mabton Coach Mike Roettger, goes a long way in helping his Lady Vikings secure one of the league's five postseason berths.
"It was huge for us to get this win on the road," he said.
"I have to compliment my players. All my kids played hard. Never once did their heads drop, even when we got behind by eight in the first half. It was a great all-around team effort," said Roettger.
Jimenez was the catalyst down the stretch for the Lady Vikes, pumping in eight of her game-high 21 points in overtime. Naches scored on a foul shot to open the OT period, but Jimenez responded with a basket from treyland to give Mabton the lead for good. She went on to score eight of the Lady Vikes' 12 overtime points.
It looked as though Mabton had firm control of the game late in the fourth quarter, leading by six with 56 ticks left on the clock. But, Naches knocked down a free throw and followed up with a putback basket to cut the Lady Vikes' lead to just three. The Rangers eventually got the ball back and a desperation three by Ann Risley with 12 seconds remaining tied the game at 38-all.
Mabton worked the ball upcourt for the last shot in regulation, but a drive to the hoop by junior Trishi Williams was thwarted when a Ranger fouled her. Williams was sent to the free throw line with the clock showing under a second to play. Unfortunately for the road team, Williams fired a couple of blanks on her foul shots.
"I can't blame her," Roettger said of the two misses by Williams. "She was drained by that point," explaining Williams was dead tired from shadowing Naches point guard Jordan Huck all game long.
"We ran a diamond-and-one defense last night in an attempt to shut down the Huck girl," said Roettger. "Trishi played her physical all game long, staying on the floor for 27 minutes. She did a heckuva job, holding Huck to just seven points."
Mabton went on to outscore the Rangers by a 12-5 margin in overtime.
Offensively, Mabton got the game-high 21 points from Jimenez, which was a surprise considering Jimenez injured her back in practice Monday when a teammate undercut her during a scrimmage. Williams, besides the great defensive effort she turned in last night, popped in nine points for the Lady Vikes, and teammate Monica Tellez added a season best 10-point performance.
Freshman Crysta Reynolds also excelled for Mabton, chipping in two points to go along with her team-high nine rebounds.
The Mabton girls will travel to Granger this coming Friday to take on the league-leading Spartans, and will then host Highland on Saturday.