FINLEY - The Mabton Vikings kept their unbeaten league streak alive this past Friday with a 57-39 win against the Riverview Panthers in SCAC East action. The win puts Mabton's league record at a perfect 8-0.
"Riverview is probably the toughest place to play in the (SCAC) East and they are one of the best coached teams in the league," Mabton Coach Brock Ledgerwood said. "Those factors along with us coming from way behind for an overtime win against them in December had this game set up for a tough battle. It was a tough battle as expected, but only for three quarters before we were able to pull away for the win in the fourth."
The Vikings struggled against Riverview's zone defense in the first half, shooting just 31 percent from the field. The Panthers were able to control the tempo and forced the Vikings into a half-court game. As a result of this, the Viking players took quick shots that never seemed to find the net.
"There are nights that our offense isn't going to be there, but at this level of basketball your defense has to show up every night if you hope to win consistently," Ledgerwood added.
The Vikings took a 23-19 lead into halftime.
In the second half the Vikings' defense stepped it up and caused some turnovers that Mabton was able to transition into points. Midway through the third quarter Riverview's Victor Contreras scored 10 of his game-high 17 points by aggressively driving to the basket.
"At that point, I got an assist from my assistant coaches who suggested we switch to zone to stop his penetration and it worked," Ledgerwood said.
"After switching to zone, we only gave up eight points the final quarter and a half."
The Vikings extended their lead in the third quarter and then blew the Panthers out of the water in the fourth period, 15-5, for the win.
Josh Sanchez led the Vikings with 14 points and eight rebounds. Josh Strickland added 11 points and five rebounds. Kristian Carrasco had 10 points and four assists. Carmen Johnson added 10 points and grabbed five rebounds. Roman Chavez scored five points for the Vikings and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Mabton (13-3) will play at Royal on Tuesday, Jan. 25. A win Tuesday will clinch a spot in the District tournament for the Vikings.
"We know we will continue to get every team's best shot and we must step up and take it if we want to remain undefeated in league," Ledgerwood said. "Although we beat Royal handily last time, we cannot take them lightly. They are at home, need a win to help themselves in the standings and their size can cause us problems. We have to continue to be ready to play every night out."