Steers winning streak ends
The Steers basketball team's sensational season came to an abrupt halt on Saturday in the first round of the state tournament.
The loss to McCurdy, 55-49, in a physically played contest was clearly not expected by loyal fans who appeared somewhat confounded by the end result. Yet, there still was an air of pride as they left the gym.
"You never expect a loss, but at this time of the season you don't expect anybody to hand you a win either, regardless of the seed," Magdalena coach Jory Mirabal said. "There are no 'gimmes,' especially now."
With the Steers' success this year, a new fan in Magdalena's gym would never have deduced that Magdalena graduated 10 seniors last year, leaving the team with zero seniors for this year's go. The team's record (25-3) will always be a tribute to the young men on this year's roster. Mirabal speculated this year's success could easily have been among the top two or three seasons in the history of the school.
"We hope to take the next step next season and mature a little bit," Mirabal said. "But that will come with some hard work and some time and I think we'll be able to do both. Obviously we wanted to be in Albuquerque next week, but for a team this young to be able to do what we did this season …"
Trailing by nine going into the fourth quarter, the Steers went on a 10-0 run. They regained the lead 43-42 with 5:07 showing on the clock for the first time since having scored the first two points in the game. The momentum shift got the crowd in the game big time.
McCurdy responded with a six-point run to retake the lead. With just under a minute to go, the Steers trailed 50-47. After that it became a foul-and-hope-they-don't-make-it kind of drawn out contest that ended badly for the Magdalena boys.
"We had some moments in the game that we were a little bit flat," Mirabel said. "They came out and they were very aggressive physically with us, and as a young team we may not have responded to that as well as we could have. For the most part they beat us up physically more than anything. Once we relaxed we were fine."
Mirabal paid tribute to the returning starters Tyler Julian and Dre Montoya. He said that they provided the leadership that sparked the winning season. He also was complimentary of J.B. Britton, who is usually a role player but gave the team solid minutes.
"Austin Plenty Chief and Barak Stephens coming off the bench gave us that spark that we really needed in the second half," Mirabel said. "The game could have gotten pretty ugly but those guys gave us that spark."
Mirabel praised his team in the locker room where he told the boys the biggest thing he could do for them was let them know he just wanted them to hold their head up and feel pride for what they were able to accomplish this season.
"Of course they showed some …," Mirabel said. "Sure we're disappointed, but let's use that as motivation as we go forward so that we can be that team that we want to be this time next year."