MABTON - After a see-saw first half, the Mabton High School boys basketball team used a 17-8 third quarter run to knock off league foe White Swan 55-49.
The win Tuesday night came at home for the Vikes against a Cougar team that was alone atop the SCAC West standings.
Things started well enough for Mabton, as the home team scored the first five points before struggling to find the bottom of the net. Mabton connected on just 14 percent of its shot attempts in the first half.
White Swan rallied with a 13-4 run to close out the quarter and moved into the half up 22-15 in the low scoring affair.
"We got some good shots in the first half, they just didn't go in the basket," said Mabton Coach Brock Ledgerwood. "In the second half we were able to finally put the ball in the basket."
Mabton shot a blistering 58 percent from the field in the second half.
The Vikes found their aim in the third quarter with that scoring run more than doubling their entire first half output. More importantly, it put Mabton up 32-30 heading into the final quarter.
"We responded well in the half defensively as a team, which led to some great shots on the offensive end," Ledgerwood noted.
Juventino Morfin sparked Mabton in the third stanza, opening up with a couple of early steals and buckets the other way to get the Vikes back in the game.
Mabton reserve Zach Peralez gave the home team a boost with back-to-back buckets in the paint to put the Vikings up for good.
Ricky Sanchez was also key to Mabton's second half surge, scoring 10 of his 12 points over the final two quarters.
Mabton gradually pulled away in the fourth quarter, led by Morfin's 7-of-8 free throw shooting in the final period.
"Juve is a tough kid and he wasn't going to let this one get away from us in the second half," Ledgerwood noted.
The coach said he was pleased with his team's focus and intensity in the win against White Swan, which moved Mabton to 4-3 in league and 5-8 overall.
"We did the little things right for most of the night and that showed," Ledgerwood said. "We struggled to put the ball in the basket early, but our defense kept us in the game and when it mattered the most we hit our shots and knocked down our free throws."
Morfin and Sanchez shared scoring honors for Mabton with 12 points each. Morfin also collected eight rebounds and Sanchez climbed the ladder for six boards. J.T. Reynolds and Tyler Herrera chipped in 10 and eight points, respectively, for the Vikes.
Brady Carl led White Swan with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The loss was White Swan's second league defeat this season, both of them to Mabton. Last night's Viking victory tightened up the league standings, as the seven SCAC West teams are separated by just two games.
Mabton returns to league action this Friday at Goldendale.