YAKIMA - The Mabton Viking boys basketball team overcame an 11-2 first quarter run by host Riverside Christian to rally for a 42-34 non-league win last night, Tuesday.
Mabton (1-0, 8-1) had no answer for the Crusaders' Jeremy Pynch in the opening stanza, as he scored 11 of his team-high 13 points in the first quarter.
Riverside Christian led 15-6 after one quarter, when Mabton found its footing and chipped away at the Crusaders.
"After that point we settled down offensively and gained some patience," said Viking Coach Brock Ledgerwood. "Riverside traditionally plays great defense and forces you to be patient offensively to get good looks."
Ledgerwood praised the play of J.T. Reynolds in sparking a comeback that saw Mabton outscore Riverside Christian a combined 23-9 over the second and third quarters.
"He had a solid night and took control for us on the offensive end," Ledgerwood said.
Another key to the rally that helped Mabton to a 29-24 lead heading into the fourth quarter was improved defense.
"Once we started to move our feet defensively and step up to take charges on the drive, it became much more difficult for Riverside to get good looks at the basket," said Ledgerwood. "Derrick Nash really stepped up defensively at key times for us, including taking three charges."
It was a role reversal for Nash, usually an offensive spark off the bench for the Vikes. Ledgerwood said another key reserve was Zach Peralez, whom the coach said "solidified our defense inside the paint."
Reynolds led Mabton with 15 points and also hauled down nine rebounds to lead a 25 to 17 advantage on the boards.
Riverside Christian was Mabton's final non-league tune-up before a stretch of 11 league contests to close out the regular season.
"We are 8-1 right now, but that means nothing at this point. We have 11 league contests to go and now they all count toward positioning for postseason play," said Ledgerwood. "We must take it one day and one game at a time and battle through our tough league schedule."