MABTON - A furious rally at the end wasn't enough as the Mabton Viking boys basketball team lost to visiting Riverview 54-51 this past Tuesday night.
Mabton trailed by seven points with just two minutes left in the contest when it caught fire and nearly pulled even.
The Vikes cut the margin to three points and missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer that would have sent the game into overtime.
The Vikes were helped by Riverview's struggles at the free throw line as the Panthers missed nine charity tosses over the final two minutes.
"We started fouling and they missed," Mabton Coach Brock Ledgerwood said. "We were able hit a few shots and slowly get back into the game."
The late Viking rally countered success the Panthers had earlier in the fourth frame to open up a large lead after the contest had been tight for the previous three quarters.
"They switched to a zone defense in the fourth quarter and that threw us off, we couldn't get our momentum back," said Ledgerwood.
The coach gave Riverview's defense credit for making life tough throughout the game for Mabton's ball handlers.
"The big thing that hurt us were untimely turnovers. I have to credit their defense for creating those turnovers," Ledgerwood said.
Riverview started Tuesday night's game just as it ended, with the advantage, as the Panthers shot out to a 15-11 first quarter lead. The lead see-sawed from there, with Mabton trailing by just two points after three quarters.
"Our effort was there last night, we just turned the ball over and couldn't get the breaks we needed," Ledgerwood said.
Josh Sanchez paced Mabton with 17 points and teammate Alex Reyna added 11.
David Flores sparked the Panthers with 12 points.
Tuesday's defeat was the fourth in a row for Mabton (5-5, 6-12), which has now dropped into a three-way tie with Riverview and Columbia-Burbank for third place in the SCAC East.
The top four teams in the SCAC East will advance to the postseason.
The Vikes have just two games remaining in the regular season and both are on the road, starting with a contest at Connell this Friday.
"We're in a three-way tie, two of us will be in the playoffs and one will be left out," Ledgerwood said. "We've got our backs to the wall and it's time to start playing some better basketball."