The Mabton High School boys basketball team knew they had an opportunity for at least two easy victories this season and those wins came this weekend when the Vikings took on Highland and Cle Elum-Roslyn.
The two teams are a combined 1-22 on the season, but the Vikings didn't want to get over confident.
"It was important for us to be solid this weekend and get better," Mabton Coach Brock Ledgerwood said. "We have focused on playing the game we want to play, no matter our opponent or the score. I was very happy with our kids' effort this weekend. We were able to go 12 deep on the bench and not get a drop off in production."
The Vikings hosted the Highland Scotties on Friday, beating them handily 68-33.
Derrick Nash got off to a hot start for the Vikings and hit 3-of-4 three-point shots in the first quarter and scored Mabton's first nine points.
Ledgerwood said from that point the Viking defense took over and Mabton was able to open a 19-point halftime lead, 34-15.
The Scotties had their best quarter of the night in the third period, scoring 12 points but the Vikings countered with 21 of their own.
"We let up a bit defensively in the third quarter but held them to one field goal in the fourth quarter," Ledgerwood said.
The Highland team spent most of the game playing zone defense, something that has frustrated Mabton this year. But Ledgerwood said his team was able to get the proper movement and spacing and Nash took advantage of the zone and hit some big shots. The Viking guards were able to attack the zone and get the ball to Mabton's big guys under the basket consistently all night long.
"We need to build off of this as we face zones throughout the rest of the season," Ledgerwood added.
Nash led the Vikings in Friday's game with 21 points, including going 5-for-7 from the three-point line. He also grabbed seven rebounds.
Mabton's Kristian Carrasco finished the game with 17 points and six assists. Tyler Herrera added seven points for the Vikings and grabbed five rebounds. Jesus Huecias dropped in six points and provided six assists in the Viking effort. Teammate LeeTroy Rodriguez also had six points.
Highland was led by Tyler Hakala with nine points and seven rebounds. Brandon Hyde had eight points for the Scotties.
On Saturday Mabton traveled to Cle Elum for a game with the Warriors. Mabton won 71-50.
"We were not extremely pleased with our intensity on defense," Ledgerwood said of his team's performance in Cle Elum.
The Vikings like to hold teams in the low 40s and Ledgerwood said his team must do a better job of defending for the entire 32 minutes.
Nash again got the Vikings off to a hot start, hitting three-point shots on two of Mabton's first three possessions. This forced the Warriors to abandon their zone defense.
"Derrick can be a big spark offensively and his shot was definitely falling this weekend and propelled us to two quick leads that we never looked back from this weekend," Ledgerwood said.
Nash scored 12 points in the first quarter as Mabton took a 23-10 lead. By halftime the Vikings had increased their lead over the Warriors to 42-26.
"We were extremely balanced with all 12 kids getting in the scoring column," Ledgerwood added. "It is great to see guys come off the bench and get some buckets. All our kids are working hard in practice and they deserve the opportunity to show what they can do. Cle Elum made us battle, but after the quick start they never really threatened a comeback."
The Vikings outscored Cle Elum-Roslyn 29-24 in the second half to come away with the win.
Nash led the Vikings with 14 points in the game. Carrasco finished with nine points, as did Josh Sanchez.
Gael Sosa added eight points. Josh Strickland had seven points. Carmen Johnson dropped in six points for the Vikings. Teammates Christian Salinas, Herrera and Rodriguez each finished with four points. Huecias had three points. Gilbert Garcia scored two points and Danny Diaz added one point to Mabton's total.
Mabton (4-1, 9-3) will play Riverside Christian tonight (Monday) at 8:45 p.m., at the Yakima SunDome. The Vikings will get back into league play on Friday when Mabton hosts Naches Valley.