MABTON - The Mabton Viking boys basketball team improved to 5-1 in league play, and moved its overall record to 6-8, with a pair of SCAC East wins at home this past Friday and Saturday.
Friday's contest, a 50-44 win over Connell, looked like anything but a victory early on as the visiting Eagles soared to an 11-2 lead in the first quarter.
"We got good shots, but couldn't hit them and in turn Connell hit almost everything they put up for the first four minutes," said Mabton Coach Brock Ledgerwood. "Halfway through the first quarter, we buckled down defensively and began to put the ball in the basket and outscored them 24-14 over the next 12 minutes to lead by one at the half."
The Vikes sustained the momentum in the third quarter to lead 36-31 heading into the fourth quarter.
Connell found new life in the final frame, though, banking a 3-pointer with two minutes to play to pull within a single bucket.
Luis Ruiz answered for Mabton, canning a trey with 40 seconds to seal the win.
Josh Sanchez led Mabton with 27 points, 20 of them coming in the pivotal second and third quarters. Sanchez turned in an all-around nice game, adding six rebounds and four assists.
Connell was sparked by Matt Hadley with 12 points, along with 11 points and eight rebounds by Austin Fox.
It was a different story in Mabton on Saturday night, as it was the Vikes who enjoyed a fast start, building a 25-7 lead after one quarter, on the way to a convincing 60-40 victory over Wahluke.
Ledgerwood attributed the opening run to "great teamwork and passing." He added, "We were able to find the open shooters and we knocked down the open shots." Indeed, the Vikes canned five-of-six shots behind the three-point line in the opening quarter.
The scoring was essentially a wash from that point, as Mabton cruised to the win.
"Our defense was solid throughout most of the game and with a big early lead, we did a great job of continuing to play hard," Ledgerwood said.
Sanchez sparked Mabton with 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while teammate Andrew Gutierrez added nine points, including two-of-three shooting from behind the arc.
The Vikes also got a boost from Lorenzo Sanchez and Alex Espinoza with eight points apiece.
Jarid Sabin paced the visiting Warriors with 14 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
Victories this past weekend vaulted Mabton into second place in the SCAC East at the midpoint of the league season.
"We are in a great spot at this point, but there is a lot of basketball left to play," Ledgerwood said. "We need to keep getting better every day and take it one game at a time."
Taking it one game at a time starts this coming Friday, as Mabton hosts Riverview. The Vikings then travel to Columbia-Burbank on Saturday.