Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lady Steers Fall Just Short

By Nicky Romero
For The Mountain Mail

RIO RANCHO -- Magdalena players said they were going to play with heart and leave it all out on the court.
They did exactly that Thurs-day, Mar. 11, but it was not quite enough as they fell to the eventual 1A state champion Floyd Lady Broncos 48-46 at the Santa Ana Center in the New Mexico State Basketball Championship semifinals.
“We were going down fighting, if we were going down,” said sophomore Kameron Armstrong. “Before the game we said we were going to play with heart. I think we did.”
The Lady Steers felt defeat for the first time this season ending up with a remarkable 28-1 record.
The #6-seeded Lady Broncos were crowned the 1A State Girls Champions on Saturday, Mar. 13, at the Pit by upsetting undefeated and #1-seeded Cliff 41-36.
The Lady Steers were able to stay close to the Lady Broncos in the first quarter, tying the game at 3-3 and 6-6. Senior Nicole Hardy hit a short jumper to give them their first lead of the game 8-7. Floyd's Tori Tucker made a three-pointer at the end of the quarter to give her team a 10-8 lead at the end of the quarter.
In the middle of the second quarter, Magdalena fell behind by 12 points. Hardy's hustle, rebounding, and shooting led the charge back. She scored five points and teammate Keanda Chavez hit a mid-range jumper at the end of the quarter to whittle the deficit down to six points, 27-21. Hardy scored 12 of her 13 total points during the first half.
The Lady Steers played catch-up in the third quarter. Floyd's Hunter scored quickly and gave her team a 29-21 lead. The Lady Steers' man-to man defense held strong and steady this quarter allowing their offense to make up the deficit. With 3:35 on the clock, Camille Mansell scored on a layup to finally tie the score at 31-31.
“There was a time there where we thought they were starting to tire out,” Coach Sanchez said.
“All of a sudden, they got a second wind and kept coming at us.”
Floyd regained the lead, but this time Armstrong scored to tie it again at 33-33. With 1:04 in the third, Magdalena finally got the lead on a basket by Mansell, who was fouled. She made the free throw for a 36-34 lead. Hunter again struck and scored on a layup at the buzzer for a 36-36 tie.
Mansell opened the fourth quarter with two short jumpers to give her team their biggest lead at 40-36. The two teams went toe-to-toe the rest of the quarter, exchanging the score or tying the game a number of times. Down by three with 1:56, Keanda Chavez was fouled on a three-point shot. She made two of the three free throws to edge to one down. Jennifer Mati was then fouled and made one free throw to tie the game at 46 with 1:38 remaining.
Floyd's Ronnie Mendoza scored her only two points of the game on a layup with 38.4 seconds left and a 48-46 lead. Magdalena was able to get the ball back on a Floyd out of bounds call with 9.6 seconds. They immediately in-bounded the ball and Keanda Chavez was fouled. She missed the first and intentionally missed the second. Floyd was able to rebound the ball, but Magdalena tied up the ball for a jump ball. The possession arrow was on Floyd's side and ran off the two seconds for the victory.
“Our game plan was to stop Tucker from getting 25 points and stop Whitecotton from getting 13,” Sanchez said. “We didn't do a very good job there.”
“You have to give them credit. They are two real good basketball players.”
“These kids have always kept fighting and fighting and truly believed it's not over. And I'll be darned up to that last free throw that we missed on purpose, we get the rebound and put it up, the game is tied if we make it. There's not a quitter in that locker room.”
Mansell finished the game with 14 points and 7 rebounds. Mati had a game high of 10 rebounds.
Floyd's Tucker finished with 25 points, 7 steals, and 5 rebounds. Teammate Tanna Whitecotton had 11 points
Magdalena shot 14 of 48 from the field for 29 percent. Floyd shot 16 of 38 for 42 percent. From the free throw line, Magdalena made 17 of 28 for 61 percent. Floyd made 14 of 18 for 78 percent. Magdalena finished with 41 rebounds to Floyd's 25. Magdalena also had 6 steals to Floyd's 10. Both teams had 19 turnovers.
“I think we all did good,” Hardy said “I'm really proud of my team. They all worked hard. We accomplished a lot.”
“We're losing a lot of good girls, but we have a lot of girls coming up,” Armstrong said. “We're going to come back just as tough next year. We'll be ready.”
“We talked about winning state, that was our goal. We talked about winning district, that was another goal. We talked about winning 20 games again for the seventh year in a row, that was a goal. We achieved all those and just came up short on our goals.”

Pictured: Keanda Chavez looks to make a pass against Floyd in the state semifinals Thursday.

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