MABTON - The Mabton High School boys basketball team's 2009-10 season got off to a good start this past Saturday night with a 71-61 win over visiting Warden.
The Cougars started out the first quarter hitting quick two-point shots. Mabton then began to slowly battle back and held a three-point lead after one quarter, 16-13.
"In the second quarter our defense created some easy looks in transition, but we looked tired and gave up too many easy looks and trips to the free throw line," Mabton Coach Brock Ledgerwood said.
Still, the Vikings were able to extend their lead over the Cougars by four points and led 37-33 at halftime.
Ledgerwood said he spoke to his team about their first half problems at halftime and in the second half the Vikings responded.
Mabton held Warden to just three points in the first five minutes of the third quarter and used that momentum to build a 14-point lead.
In the fourth quarter the Vikings started to tire, allowing the Cougars to close to within eight points. But thanks to key free throw shooting and ball control, Mabton was able to hold off Warden's charge.
"We transitioned very well on offense and capitalized off forced turnovers by turning them into solid scoring opportunities," Ledgerwood said. "I am very happy with the way we ran the floor on offense. We also executed our half court offense very well and were able to consistently get good looks."
Mabton was led by Kristian Carrasco, who scored a career-high 25 points in the game. He shot 83 percent from two-point land. Josh Strickland added 11 points for the Vikings. He was followed by Jesus Huecias with 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds. Josh Sanchez added 10 points and grabbed five rebounds for the Vikings.
Derrick Nash contributed six points for Mabton, Gael Sosa had five points and four steals for the Vikings and LeeTroy Rodriguez added four points.
Warden was led by Nathan Brown with 22 points. He was also 9-for-12 from the free throw line. Ty Jesse added 13 points for the Cougars.
Mabton shot 60 percent (15-for-25) from the free throw line. Warden was a tad better with 15-for-24 shooting. The Vikings were 27-for-50 from the field and Warden shot 20-for-46. Mabton hit two three-pointers while the Cougars drained seven of them.
The Cougars were able to out-rebound the Vikings, 30 to 24, but Warden committed more than triple the turnovers that Mabton did, turning the ball over 23 times. Mabton turned the ball over seven times.
"We did a lot of good things and our mistakes are things that are easily fixed with conditioning and more repetition in practice," Ledgerwood said. "This was a good start to the season, but we still have a long way to go to get where we want to be."
Mabton (1-0) will travel to Columbia-Burbank for a 7:30 p.m. game with the Coyotes on Tuesday, Dec. 8.