COWICHE - Using good defense and offensive runs here and there the Mabton boys basketball team ran roughshod over the Highland Scotties this past Saturday, winning 46-31 in a SCAC West matchup.
Mabton's Derrick Nash and Carmen Johnson combined for 19 first half points as the Vikings led 10-4 after one quarter and then build up that lead to a commanding 30-12 lead at halftime.
"We jumped out to a quick lead in the first quarter and then coasted through the second half," Mabton Coach Brock Ledgerwood said. "It's tough to keep up the intensity for 32-minute games when you have a big lead.
"As we near the playoffs it will be important to hold our focus and intensity when we get a lead."
Ledgerwood said he was happy with his team defense, especially in the first half when the Vikings held Highland to just 12 points. It's the rebounding that worries him.
"Our team D is solid, but we are not finishing off with rebounds," Ledgerwood said. "Highland held an easy 32 to 21 rebound margin. We can't get beat like that on the boards and consistently beat good teams."
Nash had 11 points for the Vikings and Johnson added eight points and grabbed five rebounds. Josh Sanchez added seven points for Mabton.
Teammates Josh Strickland and Tyler Herrera each added six points for the Vikings. Kristian Carrasco had four points, six assists and four steals for Mabton. Jesus Huecias added four points and four assists.
Highland was led by Tyler Hakalao with six points and seven rebounds. Brandon Hyde had six points for the Scotties and teammate Alex Laughery finished with six points.
Mabton (7-3, 12-6) started the weekend in the third place spot in the SCAC West, just one game back of Goldendale. The Timberwolves lost to both Naches Valley and Zillah this past weekend, which moved the Vikings into sole possession of second place. Mabton now controls its destiny.
The Vikings will host Cle Elum on Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 7:30 p.m. A Mabton win would clinch a second place finish for the Vikings and a home District tournament game in the first round.
Cle Elum is 0-10 in league play but recently got a starter back from injury.
"We must be mentally ready for a battle to send our seniors out in style with a win," Ledgerwood said.