YAKIMA - Playing its third game in just four days, the Mabton High School Vikings found themselves being blown out in the first half against 2B Riverside Christian at the Yakima SunDome last night, Monday.
Playing the last game of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day SunDome Showdown, the Vikings dug themselves too big of a hole to climb out of as they fell to the 2B Crusaders 43-38 in a non-league matchup.
Mabton, a 1A team, had its chances. Down by nine points with less than a minute to play, the Vikings' Tyler Herrera hit two three-point shots to bring Mabton to within three points with 17 seconds to go in the game. Riverside went cold from the field in the third and fourth quarters but Derek Byrne was able to hit two free throws to stave off a Mabton comeback.
"This was a tale of two halves," Mabton Coach Brock Ledgerwood said.
The Vikings lacked intensity on both ends of the court in the first half. Riverside was led by Jeremy Pynch in the first half with 13 points. His teammate, Byrne, finished with seven points in the first half.
"It was one of our worst halves we've played this year," Ledgerwood said of his team's effort in the first and second quarters. "We were not mentally ready to come and play."
Riverside led 21-7 after the first quarter and then stretched that lead to 20 points at halftime, going into the locker room with a 31-11 lead.
Twenty points is a big hole to climb out of but the Vikings began their attempt in the third quarter with a relentless press that befuddled the Crusaders.
"In the second half we completely turned the table intensity wise and played up to our abilities," Ledgerwood said.
After giving up 21 points in the first quarter the Vikings held Riverside scoreless through the first five minutes of play in the second half. Mabton outscored the Crusaders 15-4 in the quarter and cut Riverside Christian's lead to nine points to begin the fourth period.
The Vikings continued their hot defensive play in the fourth but the offense sputtered. The Vikings went cold offensively on the first three plays of the quarter, missing three open looks.
Defensively, however, the Vikings held the Crusaders scoreless from the field throughout the quarter, but Riverside was able to connect on eight free throws to cushion their lead against Mabton's 12 points in the final quarter.
"We had some good looks in the fourth quarter, they just didn't go in," Ledgerwood said.
Mabton was led by Herrera with 13 points. Kristian Carrasco finished with 10 points for the Vikings and Carmen Johnson added nine points. Teammates Josh Sanchez had four points and Josh Strickland finished with two.
Pynch led Riverside with 19 points and Byrne added 11 points in the Crusaders' win.
"We have two tough league games this weekend and we must bounce back," Ledgerwood said. "We are in great position in the second place (in the SCAC West), but must continue to play with heart and intensity to get where we want to be at tournament time."
Mabton (4-1, 9-4) will host Naches Valley on Friday, Jan. 22, at 7:30 p.m. The Vikings will then travel to play Goldendale on Saturday, Jan. 23, at 7:30 p.m.