BURBANK - "I always say we learn more when we lose than when we win...we learned a lot last night," said Mabton girls hoops coach Chris McCallum.
His team led the SCAC 1A District tourney opener against the Columbia (Burbank) Lady Coyotes until the fourth quarter.
The Lady Vikings went into the half 28-22 and outscored the Lady Coyotes 13-10 in the third quarter.
"We controlled the game until the fourth quarter," said McCallum, adding, "The game went down to the wire and was probably the best game of the year for us."
He recalled losing to Columbia (Burbank) earlier in the season by 21 points and said last night's game was a definite improvement over the Dec. 8 game.
But, in the final quarter, Columbia (Burbank) went on a run, with Lady Coyote Briana Rivas hitting two baskets from outside the three-point arc to tie the game 41-41.
"Those two threes really hurt us, but we kept battling," said McCallum.
The game was tied 44-44 before a two-point basket from Lady Coyote Tiffany Idler, who scored an overall 31 points.
Mabton's Monica Tellez answered with a jumper from the right wing and tied the game 46-46.
"We knew the ball was going to Idler and we were unable to foul her before she hit a jumper at the buzzer," said McCallum.
The Lady Vikings did their job, he said, shutting down another Columbia (Burbank) player, Nicole Roberts. She was held to only four points.
"We didn't get into any foul trouble and the Lady Coyotes shot from the free throw line six times," McCallum shared.
"We just needed to stop Rivas...their team has a lot of great players," he continued.
After Lady Viking Jazzee Sustaita rolled her ankle earlier in the week, McCallum wasn't certain if she would be able to play, but she scored eight points and grabbed the ball from the glass eight times.
"She worked her butt off and played great defense," McCallum shared, adding Leti Enriquez also added to the defense and scored two points on the offensive end of the court.
"I should have played Leti more in the second half...that was a coaching error," he said.
Monica Tellez of the Lady Vikes also played well, snatching the ball from the glass 12 times and scoring four points. McCallum said she is "...playing like her old self, which is great timing for right now."
A double-double performance was garnered from Mabton's Crysta Reynolds, who scored 14 points and had 10 boards.
Another impressive performance for the Lady Vikings, said the coach, came from Melissa Gutierrez, who scored 12 points.
"If we continue to play this way we have a shot at a State (berth), and getting where we want to go," shared McCallum, who noted his team will need to defeat Riverview tomorrow (Saturday) to earn a spot in State competition.
"We lost by five to them earlier in the season, but I believe if my girls play like they did last night we have a good chance," he commented.
"We just need to get the ball through the hoop a few more times," McCallum noted.
Mabton (11-10) travels to Riverview tomorrow. Tip-off is at 3:45 p.m.