Steers win a wild one over Warriors
The Steers aren't exactly used to being caught up in tight ball games this season. In their 15 wins heading into Friday night's game with To'hajiilee, Magdalena had beaten its opponents by an average of 23 points per game.
The 11-1 Warriors weren't so eager to add themselves to that particular category.
It took a 30-foot jump shot from sophomore guard Dre Montoya with just seconds remaining in the game to propel the Steers to a 50-49 come-from-behind win over their District 2-1A rival.
Montoya led Mag with 16 points while fellow sophomore guard Tyler Julian scored 14.
Magdalena improved to 16-1 and 5-1 in league play, while the Warriors slipped to 11-2 overall and 5-1 in district.
The Steers had to overcome a rare off-night shooting the ball as they shot 31 percent from the field, and for just the third time this season they entered the fourth quarter behind on the scoreboard.
"They gave us plenty of shots, we just weren't making them," Mag head coach Jory Mirabal said.
But they outscored visiting To'hajiilee 13-9 in the final period including Montoya's clutch 3-pointer, and the Steers escaped with a big win. The victory may have also served as an affirmation that they can pull out wins even when they don't play their best basketball.
"Having been frustrated as a team for 31 minutes and 45 seconds, it was exciting to have that play the last 15 seconds to make up for it," Mirabal said. "I'm sure glad we came away with a win. We wanted to get that one at home because we know they're going to be tough at their house."
Freshman Jerry Torres added five points and two assists for Magdalena and J.B. Britton had five points and seven rebounds.
The rematch at To'hajiilee is scheduled for Feb. 19.
The Steers had little time to enjoy the thrilling victory over the Warriors though as they had to turn around and travel to Albuquerque to play Foothill just 15 hours later.
An emotional hangover is always in the back of a coach's mind after a big win, but if Magdalena was feeling any type of fatigue or otherwise heading into the contest, it didn't really show it against the Falcons.
"I was worried about it. You always are," Mirabal said. "We weren't as fresh as I would have hoped on Saturday, but we did what we needed to win."
The Steers jumped out to a 28-16 halftime lead against Foothill and never looked back, winning the district matchup 76-55.
The Steers had another off-day, shooting the ball as they hit just 27 percent of their shots from the field, but freshman Michael Chambers had his biggest game of the season scoring 25 points, grabbing six rebounds and five steals. Montoya added 16 points and seven steals, while Sedrick Apachito added yet another double-double to his season resume, scoring 16 and nabbing 11 rebounds. Julian also recorded the double-double with 14 points and 12 assists.
With that win Magdalena improved to 17-1 this season, but more importantly it's still tied with To'hajiilee for first place in District 2-1A. Both teams are 6-1 in league, which makes Mag's Friday night rematch with Desert Academy even more intriguing. The Wildcats are the only team to beat the Steers this season.
"They're very excited for that game," Mirabal said of his squad. "I think they felt like they kind of let one slip. They feel like they want to redeem themselves. I think across the board we all kind of want to redeem ourselves."
Tip-off against the Wildcats is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Magdalena on Feb. 8.