The evaluation process of putting together a competitive team has begun. Magdalena hosted its annual summer round robin style team boys basketball camp on May 30-31. 12 teams in total, both high school and middle school, traveled to compete on the three separated courts. Each were given four to five games with 20 minute halves, one timeout per half and a free breakfast and lunch for players.
Participating schools included; Magdalena, Reserve, Alamo Navajo, Hot Springs, Socorro, Pine Hill, Hatch, Zuni, Capitan, Rehoboth, St Johns-AZ, and Ft. Sumner.
Head and assistant coaches as well as former players took on referee and score keeping duties. Steers Athletic Director and Head Coach Jory Mirabal organized the event.
“I put out an email to people I know from both the coaching community as well as close friendships,” he said. “Most people I contacted were excited about the event because all of us want to see the kids play year round. Plus you throw in the ‘free’ and the ‘food’ and why not come (laughs).”
Both Kyle Julian and Jaxson Mirabal will be poised to take even more of a leadership presence entering their senior season for the Steers. There is also a new senior presence. Sam Owen Olney, whom originates from Magdalena, returns after having attended Rio Rancho high school. Don’t let this enigmatic young man with a smile and kind sideline demeanor fool you. On the court he is a precision two-way player sniper and looks to be an added weapon for an already strong Steers team.
“So far it feels pretty normal,” he said. “I had to get a little bit of flow having moved back with all of my old friends. But we look good early. We’ve got a great coach. My goal is to just go out there and help our team any way that I can.”
“The expectations coming into this year is to build off our previous success last year,” Mirabal said. “We should be stronger this season. We’re even taking our players up to Colorado for a team camp in a few weeks and there’s not a lot of schools our size that have enough kids interested in playing in something like that. It definitely helps the program having that many young guys wanting to get out and work on their skills. Our goal this offseason is to get everyone together this offseason. I stand by the old analogy of ‘weakest link in the chain’. We want to build a team.”
While never discounting any opponent, Mirabal said he is looking at tangling with teams returning experienced talent such as Pecos, Mora, Santa Rosa, Menaul and Mesilla Valley to name a few.
On the Socorro side, Head Coach Jared Marquez is entering his second season leading the Warriors varsity squad. He and the rest of his staff are evaluating what is an undetermined up and coming young roster heading into 2019-20.
“It’s still early,” he said. “But I like the way we’re looking right now. We’ve got a lot of our guards coming back. So far in this tournament from game one to game five you can see how much better the guys look. That being said, we’re out of game shape and our intensity isn’t where I want it to be. But as far as ball movement and taking better shots, which are things we struggled with last year, I think we’ve improved over these last few days.”
Rather than minute on court mechanics, Marquez looks to focus on improving team discipline off the court going into his first full summer with the players.
“We want to get these guys as much playing time as possible,” he said. “Our goals are to give them experience but also improve on little things. Everything from building our athleticism in the weight room to building our I.Q. on the court such as knowing what passes to make or seeing things before they happen. I think that fans should expect a big improvement going into next season.”
The Magdalena Steers are coming off of a 25-5 season but were bounced in the second round of the NMAA State Championships against Pecos. The Socorro Warriors were in rebuilding mode with a new coach and young team. They look to improve on its 10-18 regular season record and playoff exclusion going into the coming year.