Magdalena came away with a second-place finish at the Grants tournament and it wasn’t easy.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain

GRANTS—Magdalena’s Steers had a solid run at the Grants tournament Dec. 19-21 with a second-place finish after defeating Thoreau 45-42, Grants JV 36-34 before falling to Class 2A Laguna 54-32 in the championship game.

Playing six games in seven days didn’t slow Magdalena down, but the Steers did appear to be timid in the championship match, with coach Sara Sue Olney encouraging her team to “not be scared.”

Despite a notable difference in size, it wasn’t Laguna that the Steers feared. Instead, the fear was being wide open for a shot and not hitting the basket.

“We’re getting more and more solid in our offense. We’ve just got to trust that we can shoot and just shoot. A shot is way better than a turnover. So, I’m all for jacking up a shot, and if we miss, go and get a rebound,” Olney said.

Magdalena opened the tournament with a 45-42 win against 3A Thoreau. Gerleanzy Ganadonegro led the way with 12 points, Irene Martinez and Aliza Apache recorded eight points, and Elia Cleveland and Jorianne Mirabal had seven a piece.

Against 4A Grant’s junior varsity, it was a tight 36-34 win where the Steers were able to use their speed to match the game’s fast speed.

“Against Thoreau, we played a good routine. We handled the tempo well; we got after it. They challenged us, and we responded,” Olney said. “Grant’s JV was a little rough. We probably should have beaten them by more, but we’ve also played five games in six days. So, I think we were a little tired, but we still battled through and ended up winning that one.”

Gerleanzy Ganadonegro’s 14 points topped the Steers’ scoring, while Mirabal and Jema Ganadonegro had seven points each. The trio also nailed one three-point shot each that helped keep Grants’ defense spread out.

Magdalena made some significant adjustments after the first half against Laguna, but the “big eyes” over playing Class 2A’s No. 4 team did seem to play a factor in allowing the Lady Hawks to establish a 35-11 halftime lead.

In the second half, it was 21-19 in Magdalena’s favor, but the Steers could not overcome Laguna’s big first half.

Gerleanzy Ganadonegro led the Steers’ scoring and netted all 12 of her points after halftime.

Jema Ganadonegro and Mirabal were named to the All-Tournament team.