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Vikes storm past Cougars

YAKIMA – Shrugging off a sluggish start, the Mabton Viking boys basketball team used a third quarter surge to defeat White Swan during last Saturday’s Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic at the SunDome.

Mabton trailed 22-17 at the half, tallying just six points in the second quarter.

“Playing in the Dome (site of the 1A state tournament) is always different and it is good to get the kids exposed to that atmosphere,” Mabton Coach Brock Ledgerwood said. “We definitely had dome eyes offensively as we struggled to put the ball in the hoop, especially in the first half.”

That included knocking down free throws, as in the first half Mabton missed all nine of its attempts.

Thanks to a swarming defense, the Vikes scored 10 unanswered points early in the third quarter to take the lead for good on the way to a 54-44 victory.

Mabton also found its shooting touch, knocking down 7-of-10 free throw tries in the second half.

Roy Zavala paced the Vikes with 21 points to go with six rebounds and six steals. Alex Espinoza also tallied in double figures for Mabton with 13 points. Luis Ruiz added 8 points, seven rebounds and five steals for the Vikings.

Luis Garza was strong in the paint for Mabton with a team-high 10 boards, leading the Vikes to a 44-33 rebounding advantage.

As a team, Mabton recorded an eye-popping 18 steals against White Swan ball handlers.

“Our defense kept us in the game in the first half until our offense could finally get going,” says Ledgerwood. “We always talk about our defense always being a must, especially when we struggle to score.”

The coach also praised post players AJ Sanchez, Nico Pina and Luis Galarza for boxing out and helping Mabton to a large rebounding advantage.

Mabton will look to keep its momentum going at Kiona-Benton tomorrow, Tuesday.

Ledgerwood says the 2013-14 season might be special for his Vikings.

“We have a long way to go, but I like what I see from this group so far,” he said. “We are working hard in practice and getting better every day. If we continue to work hard and take care of the classroom, we have the potential to surprise a lot of people.”

- John Fannin can be reached at 509-837-4500 or by e-mail at JFannin@dailysunnews.com.

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