From the opening tip it was clear the Steers are on a mission toward a championship. Magdalena started its 2020 NMAA Playoffs run fast and dominating, defeating the McCurdy Bobcats at home in the first round easily 68-18.
“I liked the energy we came out with tonight,” Steers Head Coach Jory Mirabal said. “We came out with great defensive intensity and that carried over to some easy looks on offense.
The Steers were going hard from the opening tip with a quick score from senior Owen Olney. Senior Jaxson Mirabal followed that up with a corner three. Close your eyes and before you knew it, was suddenly 10-2 Magdalena when McCurdy Head Coach Ernesto Espinoza was forced to call an early timeout.
“We fight hard and show up well at times,” Espinoza said. “When you get to Albuquerque in the playoffs instead of being on someone’s home court like we were tonight it’s a totally different game. That is what we emphasized with our young guys heading into next season after this loss. But we always have the mindset that we have a chance to win.”
All of the starters were on it for the Steers. Junior Mason Greenwood had some solid work in the paint with multiple put backs. Olney had a big dunk late in the first that had the hometown crowd on its feet.
“Tonight we came out and played our basketball,” Olney said. “We weren’t worried about what they were gonna do and focused on playing our best on the court tonight. Our defense was the key that led to good offense. Once we started playing good defense the other side of the ball came easy for us.”
It was clear the game was out of reach for the Bobcats down 47-7 at the half. Senior Kyle Julian had multiple precision no-look passes and Jaxson threw his name in the dunk contest realm with a huge one the erupted the gym.
In the second half things got more physical, but both teams kept things clean and showed good sportsmanship after every foul. McCurdy was done in because their shots were simply not falling, most of which were contested by the stingy Steers defense. Sophomore Joren Mirabal was firing on all cylinders, hitting shots from all over the court which led to a 60-9 lead after three.
“I came in confident tonight,” Mirabal said. “My team needs me to make those shots and fortunately tonight I was able to do that. We try to get everyone involved on offense. Everybody gets a touch and a chance. We are a team 100 percent.”
After the game ended, Olney addressed the mentality of the team as the moves from its home court to the Santa Ana Sports Complex.
“We’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” he said. “Tomorrow we have a day off then I expect us to have a great practice on Monday before the next phase of the tournament starts. We’re locked in at this point.”
The team will begin the next round of the playoffs on the road at the Santa Ana Sports Complex on March 11 against the seventh seeded Texico Wolverines. Should they win that matchup, the Steers will move on to the final two rounds of competition which will take place at the Dreamstyle Arena on March 13-14. Coach Mirabal is confident in his still undefeated team going on the road for the final three rounds.
“They always say defense travels,” he said. “If you can play consistently good on defense then we as a team know that will result in success. When you’re playing in different venues and playing better competition the one thing that you can count on is staying tough and fighting on defense.”