Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lady Steers Make State Final Four

By Nicky Romero
For the Mountain Mail

BERNALILLO – For the Magdalena girls basketball team, it was all about defense.
The Lady Steers went on an 18-0 run in the third and fourth quarter and defeated Grady 68-49 Tuesday night at Bernalillo High School in the quarterfinals of the New Mexico High School State Tournament.

The Lady Steers improved to 28-0 and they will face Floyd (21-7) Thursday in the state semifinals at 6:30 p.m. at the Santa Ana Center in Rio Rancho. Sixth seeded Floyd advanced by beating third seeded Des Moines 65-54 Tuesday night.
“Floyd is very similar to the team we just played,” Magdalena coach Wally Sanchez said. “They don’t quit. They are on fire and we are going to have our hands full on Thursday.”
Magdalena had its hands full for two and a half quarters against Grady.
With 3:10 left in the third quarter, the teams were tied at 36-36.
The Lady Steers cranked up the full-court pressure and they converted a number of turnovers into some easy points.
With a little more than six minutes left in the game, Magdalena led 54-36. The Lady Steers hit their free throws down the stretch to secure the win. The Lady Steers converted 23 of 36 from the charity stripe.
Kameron Armstrong led the Lady Steers with 18 points and Nicole Hardy added 18 and Keanda Chavez 13. Mandy Rush led Grady with 23 points.
“Grady is a real good team and well coached,” Sanchez said. “They never quit. Grady tied the game but our girls took a deep breath and we just kept playing defense. Our defense took a lot out of them. In the state tournament, there are no more easy ones.
We were finally able to cash in on their turnovers and the kids came through on the free throw line.”
Magdalena advanced to the quarterfinals by beating Animas 59-39 at home on March 5.
“It was a real tough physical ballgame,” Sanchez said. “There were bodies flying all over. But our girls handled it well, because they play physical all the time.”
Nicole Hardy led the Lady Steers with 22 points and Keanda Chavez added 10.
“Nicole Hardy did a great defensive job on their big girl Merilee Richardson,” Sanchez said. “Camille Mansell and Jennifer Matai did a good job on the boards. Cameron Armstrong and Karly Chavez applied the defensive pressure, which caused many steals and walking calls.”
Sanchez was also asked about fan support in Albuquerque. He said, “Our fans have been fantastic this year. We're going to have all of I-25 plus all of Magdalena, plus anybody else that's just curious. It's going to be a great, great basketball situation. It will be jam-packed and believe me, that's an advantage.”

Photo: Magdalena’s Keanda Chavez plays defense against Grady in a state quarterfinal matchup Tuesday.

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