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Vikes earn split in SCAC contests

After a slow start last Friday in a 64-53 loss at home to LaSalle, the Mabton boys basketball team rallied for a 68-57 victory on Saturday over Lower Valley rival Granger.

Against the Lightning, Mabton found itself down 30-18 at the half, slowed down by LaSalle’s press.

Mabton Coach Brock Ledgerwood said LaSalle’s strategy forced his team into a half-court game on offense. The Vikes were also hampered by injury and foul trouble.

Even so, the Vikings made a go of things in the second half, outscoring LaSalle by one, 35-34, but it was a case of too little, too late.

“We cut the lead to five points twice in the second half, but could not capitalize on our opportunities,” said Ledgerwood. “Give LaSalle a ton of credit, every time we made a run, they had an answer, which was usually a made 3-point shot.”

Roy Zavala led Mabton with 27 points, four steals and five rebounds. Luis Ruiz added 10 points and five boards for the Vikes.

Treston Garza paced LaSalle with 15 points.

On Saturday, Mabton traveled to Toppenish to play in a SCAC rivalry Saturday event against Granger.

“It was our second game in less than 16 hours, so it was tough to know how the kids would react,” Ledgerwood said of Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. tip-off.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, Mabton again got out to a slow start against the Spartans.

The difference, though, was that the Vikes were able to get momentum on their side early in the contest thanks to a zone defense.

Mabton enjoyed an eight-point lead at the half, thanks to 18 combined points from Zavala and Ruiz.

However, Granger found its rhythm after the break and pulled within two points in the third quarter.

Ledgerwood praised his team’s ability to recover in the fourth frame and close out the contest. “We were able to hold them (the Spartans) off and then hit our free throws down the stretch.”

Zavala had a lights-out game for the Vikes with 28 points, six steals and two assists. Ruiz had a strong, all-around effort with 17 points, six steals, six assists and six rebounds.

Nathan Herrera shared team rebounding honors with Ruiz, snagging six boards to go with 11 points.

Mabton (3-6, 5-10) stayed alive in the SCAC playoff chase with last week’s split.

“We have struggled at times this year, but the last four games we seem to be starting to come together,” Ledgerwood said of his team’s three victories in the last four contests. “It is important for us to keep building and getting better every day.”

Mabton will need to do just that tomorrow, Tuesday, when it hosts No. 2-ranked Zillah.

“It will be a tough task, but we played them tough on the road a few weeks ago,” said Ledgerwood.

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