Magdalena girls advance to 3-2A championship
Magdalena High School girls basketball coach Wally Sanchez has appealed to his Lady Steers to play better defense — like he said they were back in December. On Wednesday, they responded, holding the Estancia Bears to just six second-half points en rout to a 41-29 victory in a semifinal game of the District 2-2A tournament.
With the win, Magdalena advanced to play Laguna Acoma in the district championship game, which was played Friday night after El Defensor Chieftain press time.
The Steers (21-6) had to work hard to get the job done on their home floor against Estancia (11-12), a team that was riding a three-game win streak and has been playing better basketball down the stretch.
“I was tough,” Sanchez said, “but this time of year there are no easy ones. Everybody is trying not to lose their last game.”
The Bears had the defensive edge at the outset and led, 11-10, after the first quarter.
“They came out with a few gimmick defenses, and gimmicks work for a little while. But once kids figured it out, they were able to handle it,” Sanchez said.
Seniors Alicia Armijo and Kameron Armstrong led the Steers in the first half, scoring seven and eight points, respectively. Magdalena clung to a 25-23 edge at the half.
Sanchez said he emphasized the importance of defense and rebounding during intermission, and his team responded.
“Defense and rebounding pretty much took it away from them. We continued to play our game, and that’s all we needed,” the coach said. “Our kids were working hard in the trenches and we beat them pretty bad on the boards.”
Magdalena held a 28-18 rebounding advantage for the game.
The Steers gave up just one basket in the third period, but still only held a six-point lead with five minutes left in the game.
“We went to a spread offense, and they stayed in a zone,” Sanchez said. “They finally came out with two (pressuring the perimeter) and three stayed in a zone. That killed another minute off the clock before they went man-to-man.”
Magdalena converted its opportunities to pull away further, and the defense kept the Bears in check. Estancia made just one more field goal, a 3-pointer, and a free throw in the fourth quarter.
“There was a lot of pressure on our kids to move on to the next round, but they stepped it up on defense,” Sanchez said.
The coach said the Steers were a better conditioned team, and made a difference too. He also had a lot of praise for his bench players, who contributed 13 points.
“And they were big-time points,” Sanchez said. “They didn’t come at the end; they were right in the thick of the battle.”
Kadie Kiehne came off the bench to score seven points. Danielle Gordon only made one field goal, but her defensive play was a factor, as was the presence of post Clarissa Gomez, Sanchez said.
“We need those people coming off the bench to contribute. It’s a plus when they score, but we need them to play defense and do the other things that it takes to win a game,” he said.
Keanda Chavez scored 11 points to pace the Steers. Mikayla Calhoon led the Bears with eight points.
Regardless of how Friday night’s game came out, Magdalena, ranked fourth in Class 2A in the most recent coaches poll, is a lock for a state tournament bid and hosting a first-round playoff game. State tournament brackets will be announced on Sunday.
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