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Mabton Vikes open league play with wins

The Mabton Viking boys basketball team had to work overtime, literally, in grabbing a pair of wins this past Friday and Saturday to open SCAC East play.

On Friday the Vikes came back from 11 points down in the third quarter to nip host Riverview 56-55 in overtime. The host Panthers jumped on Mabton for 19 first quarter points enroute to a 19-11 lead.

"Riverview jumped on us early as we came out of the gate flat defensively," said Mabton Coach Brock Ledgerwood.

Mabton chipped away to close within 26-21 at the half, before Riverview opened its advantage into double digits in the third quarter.

The Vikes made a run to close the gap and a Josh Sanchez buzzer-beating three-pointer brought Mabton to within 38-34 heading into the final quarter.

Things remained tight through the fourth stanza, with Sanchez bringing Mabton back from five points down in the final minute. First Sanchez canned a three-pointer then, with 14 seconds to play in regulation, dished to teammate Andrew Gutierrez for a wide open layup to force overtime.

In the extra session, Mabton trailed 55-54 when Sanchez passed the ball to teammate Roman Chavez for his only bucket of the game with 35 seconds to play. The Panthers came back with a last-second shot attempt to win the game, but it was swatted away by Sanchez.

Sanchez scored 31 points, and collected eight rebounds and four assists to pace Mabton. Andrew Gutierrez added a career-high 19 points to go with four steals for Mabton. David Flores paced Riverview with 25 points.

On Saturday, the all-everything Sanchez again stepped up, posting a school record 45 points to lead the Vikings to an 85-77 overtime victory against visiting Columbia Burbank.

Playing their eighth game in 16 days, Mabton again started slow on defense Saturday as it yielded a trio of three-pointers to the Coyotes' Nathan Roberts. That put Columbia-Burbank up 16-13 after one quarter of play. Ledgerwood noted that Roberts ended up with 36 points on the night on 8-of-11 three-point shooting and the Coyotes' Heath Lawrence knocked down four three-pointers to tally 16 points on the night.

"Our defense was slow to close out and rotate," Ledgerwood said. "We have to do a better job of knowing where the shooters are and getting to them."

Despite that, Mabton found its way on offense in posting 25 points in the second stanza to lead 38-35 at the half. Sanchez accounted for 14 of the Vikes' second quarter points, including the last seven to put Mabton up.

The Vikings held on to the lead in the third quarter, building its edge to 50-42 heading into the final eight minutes.

But Sanchez had to sit out for most of the final quarter with foul trouble, picking up his fourth with 6:30 to go in regulation.

Down by five, Columbia-Burbank took advantage of Sanchez's absence to knot the contest 70-70 and force overtime.

In the extra session, Sanchez took over with nine points to help Mabton outscore the Coyotes 15-7 and escape with a win. The Vikes hit seven consecutive free throws in overtime to seal the victory.

Besides Sanchez's record-setting performance, Mabton was paced by Gutierrez and Luis Ruiz with 13 and 10 points, respectively. Chavez added eight points, and Lorenzo Sanchez tallied three points to go with a team-high 10 rebounds. "Lorenzo isn't putting up a lot of points, but he is doing a fantastic job rebounding on both ends of the floor," Ledgerwood said.

Mabton went into its league-opening games this past weekend with just a 1-5 non-league record. It now goes into the winter break unbeaten in league play at 2-0.

"This was a huge weekend for our young team. We have played a very tough non-league schedule," Ledgerwood said. "It is great to get these wins, be in first place and be able to have a positive transition into the break. We now have three weeks and one non-league game to get ready for the rest of our league schedule."

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