Magdalena boys stay perfect

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The Magdalena boys basketball team still has an unblemished record as they beat Quemado and Ramah over the weekend to push their record to 8-0.

Jonathan Miller/El Defensor Chieftain: Steers guard Dre Montoya tries to dribble past Ramah’s Tyrell Daniels on Saturday night. The Steers beat Ramah to stay undefeated on the season.

The Steers took care of business on Friday night in beating the rival Eagles 69-47, then powered past Ramah at home on Saturday with a 55-50 victory.

It might be safe to say the Steers can’t really be considered a “young team” at this point, even though the roster suggests otherwise. Time and time again this season Magdalena has had its back up against the wall, and it continues to respond positively.

“Each game has been a little bit different as far as the matchups and the situations,” Mag head coach Jory Mirabal said. “I’m almost speechless. I hadn’t really thought about it in those terms. I might have not given them enough credit for what we can be. But when you’re coming out with a brand-new team, you don’t know what we’ve got. I will say this: As far as a gritty group that will battle through adversity, good grief. Look what these guys are willing to do.”

What Mirabal’s team did was run past a solid 7-4 team in Quemado, then overcome a rare off-night shooting against a Ramah team that’s seen some stiff competition this season. The Mustangs’ only two previous losses had come against 2A powerhouse Laguna-Acoma, and they boast a quality 6-foot, 7-inch center in senior Sean Jordan. But Steers post Sedrick Apachito continued his proverbial reign of inside terror against the Mustangs as he dropped 23 points, grabbed at least 15 rebounds and blocked four shots against Class 2A Ramah.

So far Mirabal’s squad looks like it can score from almost anywhere on the court, and that has to bode well with a team that wasn’t exactly expecting the type of post play it’s gotten so far.

“When people see us, they don’t give us a lot of love,” Mirabal said. “I can’t give Sedrick enough credit. For as good as our guard play has been, we would not be the team we are if we did not have somebody that could man the post like Sedrick does, plain and simple.”

Saturday’s contest definitely wasn’t the type of game Mag fans are used to seeing this season as Ramah jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead and almost had the Steers on the ropes. But shooting specialist Dre Montoya hit three 3-pointers in the first half to help give his team a 27-24 halftime lead.

The third quarter was mostly a back and forth as Ramah cut the Mag lead to 34-33, but Mike Chambers nailed a 3-pointer of his own to give the Steers a 37-33 lead with two minutes and 25 seconds left in the third period. Then Apachito layed in a put-back as time expired in the third to give the Steers a 39-36 advantage.

The score was 47-46 in favor of Magdalena with 3:30 left in the game when Tyler Julian knocked down a huge transition jumper to give the Steers a 49-46 lead with 2:25.

A minute later Julian found Apachito on a slick pass across the paint, and the junior center completed a 3-point play the old fashioned way to give Mag a seven point lead with 1:49 left.

From there the Steers held on for the five-point victory.

It may have been an off-night from the perimeter, but it was an otherwise complete game for undefeated Magdalena.

“What I really love about it is it is different people doing what they do best,” Mirabal said. “That’s what I love about this group. More and more people are buying into their roles. When we do those kinds of things we have a chance to be a pretty good team.”

Montoya scored 13 points against Ramah and Julian added 12. Jordan led the Mustangs with 17 points and Tyrell Morgan added 13.

The Steers will participate in the Smokey Bear Tournament in Capitan from Jan. 10 through Jan. 12, before hitting the road to take on Desert Academy in the District 2/1A opener on Jan. 18.