Magdalena girls fall in quarterfinals, 56-54

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The 2012 state tournament run of Magdalena High School’s girls basketball team is over.

The Lady Steers battled the Navajo Prep Eagles for four intense quarters Tuesday, but fell 56-54 in a Class 2A state quarterfinal, played at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.

T.S. Last/El Defensor Chieftain: Surrounded by Bears, Magdalena’s Alicia Armijo puts up a shot during last Friday night’s first-round game of the Class 2A girls basketball tournament. Armijo scored 20 points to lead the Steers to a 56-27 victory and on to a quarterfinal game against Navajo Prep.

Magdalena was up 39-30 early in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hold the lead. The Eagles were much more successful than the Lady Steers from beyond the 3-point arc, making five treys in the game to only one by Magdalena.

Lady Steers coach Wally Sanchez said he was “very disappointed” in the officiating, and felt more charges should have been called against the Eagles.

“I’m so proud of our team, and how they never quit — especially our five seniors,” said Sanchez. “We just let them get too many second and third shots down the stretch, and they hit a couple of 3s.”

The Lady Steers end the season with a 22-8 record. They were the No. 5 seed in the 2A playoffs, while Navajo Prep (21-6), the District 1-2A champion, is the No. 4 seed.

Magdalena had one of its best games of the season at the foul line, making 23 of 26 shots. But the Lady Steers couldn’t get many shots to fall from the field, especially in the second half.

The Eagles’ Briana Kee hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter alone, and four in the contest. She led three Eagles in double figures with 17 points.

Navajo Prep was 17-of-32 from the foul line in the contest, which featured 20 turnovers by each team.

Keanda Chavez led the Lady Steers with a game-high 19 points, and was 11-for-11 from the foul line. She didn’t make any 3-pointers, and Magdalena only attempted five treys in the game.

One of the Lady Steers’ top scoring threats, Alicia Armijo, was held to eight points.

April Martinez banked in Magdalena’s only 3-pointer of the game at the final buzzer to make the score closer.

Navajo Prep plays in a Thursday morning semifinal at the Star Center against No. 1 seed Texico, which beat No. 8 Peñasco 52-37 on Tuesday.

Tuesday’s loss ended the careers of the five Lady Steer seniors on their roster: Armijo, Martinez, Chavez, Maxie Kiehne and Kameron Armstrong.

Albuquerque Journal reporter Ken Sickenger contributed to this story.

Beating the Bears

The Steers got to the quarterfinals by knocking off 12th-seeded Cloudcroft, 56-27, in a first-round game last Friday night in Magdalena.

Senior Alicia Armijo broke out of a scoring slump, scoring three inside baskets to stake the Steers to a 10-5 lead.

The Bears (16-9) suffered a big blow when senior Polly Rogers was fouled hard on her way to the basket, knocking her off balance and to the floor. Rogers grimaced in pain and had to be assisted off the court with a knee injury, which Cloudcroft head coach Danny Ward said after the game would likely require surgery.

“Polly’s my No. 1 player,” Ward said. “We need all of them, but when you lose your No. 1 in the first quarter of a close game, that makes it real tough.”

Stephanie O’Connor made both free throws on behalf of Rogers to cut the deficit to 10-7, but the Steers began pulling away from that point on.

Armijo continued to dominate at the start of the second quarter. She scored six of the Steers’ first eight points in the period, the last basket coming on a nice pivot between two defenders, to give Magdalena a 22-10 lead.

Magdalena’s defense played a big role, limiting Cloudcroft to just two field goals the entire first half. Both came in the first few minutes. Magdalena’s full-court pressure and stifling half-court defense kept Cloudcroft from scoring from anywhere other than the foul line for approximately 15 minutes of the 32-minute game.

“We had great help. We made them have to push the ball up the floor and wore them out,” said Sanchez.

The Bears’ field goal drought ended when Jorden Scott made a lay up early in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 29-15. But right after that any hope of a Cloudcroft comeback went down with Karlee Alvord, who suffered an ankle injury during a scramble for the ball near mid-court. She, too, had to be assisted off the court and did not return.

Rogers and Alvord are two of Cloudcroft’s tallest players, and with them out of the game the Bears had a difficult time matching up inside.

Asked about the physical nature of the game, coach Ward said, “It’s not like the way games are officiated in our part of the state. But credit Magdalena; they played aggressive.”

Magdalena’s coach pointed out that the referees were penalizing his team for its aggressiveness. Ten of the game’s first 12 fouls went against the Steers.

“We didn’t let the refs take them out of the game,” Sanchez said. “We went to our bench and Ashley (Tafoya), Kadie (Kiehne) and Keshia (Chavez) came in and we didn’t miss a beat. Our bench has always been a strong point. Lately it’s been pretty much non-existent, but they were definitely back tonight.”

Cloudcroft failed to take advantage of the foul discrepancy, making just 13 of 31 free throws (42 percent). Magdalena wasn’t any better. The Steers made just four of their 12 free throws (33 percent).

Armijo scored 20 points to lead all scorers, while Keanda Chavez added 15 for the Steers. Scott scored nine points to pace the Bears.

— T.S. Last

 


-- Email the author at jbrooks@news-bulletin.com.