The Mabton Vikings opened up league play this past weekend with wins over Riverview and Columbia-Burbank, wins that required Mabton to battle in overtime in both games.
Mabton Coach Brock Ledgerwood said his team came out flat defensively at home on Friday night against Riverview.
"We were able to score and keep pace in the first quarter, but could not get stops," Ledgerwood said.
Riverview's Victor Contreras scored 17 points in the first quarter to set the pace for the Panthers.
He is a shooter and quick to the basket," Ledgerwood said. "He was able to hit tough 3's under pressure and get to the basket with ease. We must do a better job of starting games. We must win warm-ups, so we can get a good start and win the first quarter."
Mabton trailed 26-21 after the first period and then went cold in the second as Riverview outscored the Vikings 14-4 to take a 40-25 halftime lead.
Mabton's Carmen Johnson took control of the paint in the third quarter and the Vikings were able to feed the ball inside for 10 points in the quarter. Mabton cut the lead to nine points but then Riverview's David Flores hit three shots from beyond the 3-point arc to put the Panthers back up by 15 points.
Mabton used a big fourth quarter to even things up at 60 apiece at the end of regulation.
"I was proud of the confidence and effort from our kids in the fourth quarter," Ledgerwood added. "Down 16 with eight minutes to play, we didn't quit working."
Kristian Carrasco was 3-for-4 from the 3-point line in the fourth quarter. He also scored the first points in overtime as Mabton held off the Panthers 70-66.
Johnson had 19 points for Mabton, all in the second half. Carrasco scored 18 points, including 13 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. Josh Sanchez had 17 points for the Vikings and Roman Chavez had four points.
Riverview was led by Contreras with 25 points, Jacob Bettancourt with 16 points and David Flores with 12.
On Saturday night Mabton traveled to Burbank where the Vikings played another overtime game, beating the Coyotes 55-53.
"We did a much better job coming out of the warm-ups and starting strong," Ledgerwood said. "Jesus Huecias led us with eight first-quarter points and did an outstanding job getting to the basket for lay-ups."
Mabton led 15-12 after one quarter and 23-19 at halftime.
Ledgerwood said the second half was back and forth with Columbia-Burbank taking the lead by their efforts on the offensive glass. Mabton still managed to hold a two-point lead until Dylan Smith scored for the Coyotes to tie things up as time expired.
Carrasco again led the way in overtime for the Vikings. He scored the go-ahead lay-up after stealing the opening tip-off. Carmen Johnson gave Mabton a four-point lead with just seconds remaining to seal the win for Mabton.
Carrasco again led Mabton with 22 points and three steals. Sanchez had 11 points and Josh Strickland finished with 10 points. Huecias had eight points and three assists. Johnson finished with four points.
Columbia-Burbank was led by Tanner Woody with 17 points and Smith with 15 points.
"We definitely are growing as a team and playing in close OT games can only make us better," Ledgerwood said. "It is a great start for us to get out of this weekend with two league wins. We didn't play our best basketball for 32 minutes either night, but we had the heart and determination needed to win. These guys just don't give up on each other."
Mabton (2-0, 5-3) will play Naches Valley at home on Wednesday, Dec. 29, at 7:30 p.m.