Monday, March 3, 2014/lk
WENATCHEE – The Lady Vikings haven’t seen a State tournament during their lifetime. Their parents may recall the thrill of it, but the last time a Mabton girls basketball team stepped foot on the courts at the State Hardwood Classic was in 1986.
This year, fans of the Lady Vikings will get to experience it all.
The Mabton girls basketball team this past Friday did the unthinkable, ending the season for the defending State champion team of Brewster, 56-44.
“The girls executed the game plan to a tee,” said Mabton Coach Chris McCallum.
He said the Lady Vikes got off to a slow start, sinking just six of 33 baskets in the opening half. However, the defensive effort paid off and the teams were tied at halftime at 16-all.
McCallum said the opening half was tough, but “…a lot of that was the girls being over-excited.”
Cassidy McCallum may have provided the Lady Vikings with the incentive necessary to pick up the momentum in the third quarter.
She hit a trey at the end of the second quarter to spark the offense.
“We used that momentum and started to put the ball in the basket,” said McCallum. “That was a really big shot.”
Inspired by their teammate and a halftime chat with the coach, Desanay Guerrero and Alyssa Nash took to the court against the Bears in the third stanza and began dropping their shots in the basket for a 22-16 run.
“They were aggressive attacking the basket and getting offensive rebounds for putbacks,” said McCallum.
Guerrero led the team with a double-double, grabbing the ball from the glass 15 times, scoring 20 points.
Nash tallied eight boards, all of them on the defensive glass. She added 10 points to the team’s scoring tally.
In the final stanza, Brewster closed in on the Lady Vikes, but Mabton answered with heavy shooting from beyond the 3-point arc.
“We got hot from behind the 3-point line,” said McCallum, noting Mabton hit four treys in the final period.
Irene Pineda and Cristina Espinoza of Mabton each scored three 3-pointers, to account for their combined 18 points. Four of those three-point shots were made in the final quarter.
“They (Brewster) left us open and we made them pay,” said McCallum.
Defensively, the Lady Vikings kept the Bears from gaining the upper hand. Mabton outscored Brewster 18-12 in the fourth quarter.
The Bears committed 14 turnovers, while Mabton was forced to turn the ball over just seven times throughout the game.
“Brewster was a lot bigger team and I was a little worried going in,” said McCallum.
He said he was most worried about the rebounding, but Mabton outboarded the Bears 39-33.
McCallum was particularly pleased with Espinoza, who challenged 6’1” guard Chandler Smith. Smith, said McCallum, is ranked as the top prep player in the state.
“Cristina pestered her all night…just made everything hard on Chandler,” said McCallum.
He said the entire team stepped up when Smith would break free of Espinoza.
McCallum said a lot of excitement was also generated by the MHS student body. There were a number of students who traveled to Wenatchee on a rooters bus to offer their support.
Anticipating the first State tournament in nearly three decades, McCallum said everyone is excited, “…but knows there’s a lot more work to do.”
Mabton (19-5) will compete against Blaine in the opening round of the Hardwood Classic this coming Thursday night at the Yakima Valley SunDome. Tip-off is at 9 p.m.