ROYAL CITY - Recording their 11th straight win and the 14th out of the last 15 games, the Mabton High School boys basketball team clinched the SCAC East division with a 61-57 win against the Royal Knights last night (Tuesday).
"We knew this could be a tough game for us," said Mabton Coach Brock Ledgerwood. "It is our longest road trip of the year and Royal is the athletic, long type of team that can cause us some problems."
The Vikings came out flat from the opening tip-off and struggled to do the little things like move their feet or catch the ball, Ledgerwood said.
"I give Royal a lot of credit as they gave us their best shot and made us battle for the win," Ledgerwood said.
Mabton had trouble stopping Royal's penetration in the first quarter and the Knights were able to score easily by attacking the basket. Outside shooting by Mabton's Josh Strickland and Kristian Carrasco kept the Vikings in the game and Royal only led by one point, 18-17, after the first quarter.
In the second quarter Mabton's defense came to life and held Royal scoreless for the first five minutes of play. This allowed the Vikings to take a 30-25 lead at halftime.
"Our biggest halftime adjustment was to go out and have fun and to relax," Ledgerwood said. "We seemed to be pressing and letting little mistakes get to us mentally throughout the game."
In the second half Mabton was able to sustain longer stretches of solid play and the Vikings opened a 16-point lead with just under four minutes to play.
The Mabton players seemed to let their guard down and Royal took advantage, using turnovers and 3-point shots to cut the lead to just four points at the end of the contest.
"I was very happy with Lorenzo Sanchez's play off the bench," Ledgerwood said. "He came to play tonight on both ends of the floor and gave us solid production."
Carrasco led the Vikings with 29 points and six steals. Lorenzo Sanchez added eight points and six rebounds. Josh Sanchez also had eight points. Carmen Johnson finished with seven points. Josh Strickland had six points and Juaquin Maciel added three points.
"Although it wasn't pretty throughout any win is a good win, especially when it clinches you a league championship," Ledgerwood said.
Mabton (9-0, 14-3) will host Ki-Be on Friday, Jan. 28, at 7:30 p.m.
- Corey Russell can be contacted
at 509-837-4500, or email