NACHES - The Mabton High School boys basketball team continued its winning ways in SCAC West league play, prevailing at Naches Valley last night by a score of 57-48.
It was a nailbiter, as the host Rangers led 10-9 after one quarter and Mabton answered with 22 second-quarter points to go up 31-29 at the half.
During the quarter, MAbton was 4-of-5 behind the three-point line, while Naches found the aim as well, going 3-of-4 from behind the arc. Mabton's Juventino Morfin scored 11 of his 14 points in the first half, including a last-second jumper to give the Vikes a halftime lead.
"It was a very intense game," said Mabton Coach Brock Ledgerwood. "Both teams played tough defensively, especially in the first quarter."
The Vikings gradually pulled away from there by outscoring Naches 26-19 in the second half.
"Our goal out of halftime was to ratchet down the defense and slowly stretch out our lead," Ledgerwood said. "We were able to do that and withstand a few Naches runs down the stretch due to our patient offense, tough defense and clutch free throw shooting."
Free throw shooting has been a thorn at times for Mabton this season, but led by J.T. Reynolds' 10-of-10 performance at the stripe last night the Viking boys couldn't miss.
Mabton's patience on offense paid off in the second half, as the Vikes went to the line 18 times and canned 16 free throws. In the fourth quarter alone, the Vikings were an eye-popping 15-of-16 from the charity stripe as Naches fouled to try to slow down the Vikings.
Reynolds and Morfin shared scoring honors for Mabton, with 14 points each. Morfin also dished out five assists and Reynolds hauled down seven rebounds.
The win improved Mabton to 3-1 in league play and 4-6 overall.
"It is always huge when we can steal a win on the road in the SCAC," Ledgerwood said of last night's win.
The Vikes will be looking for more of the same this Friday when it travels to Granger. Mabton then hosts Highland on Saturday.
"We must come with the same effort and intensity we had tonight (last night) as both teams will be tough to defend," Ledgerwood noted.