Magdalena’s Isaac Lopez jumps onto Joseph Zamora after the No. 1 Steers defeated the No. 2 Melrose Buffaloes 56–43 to win the 1A State Basketball Championship on May 6.
Caitie Ihrig | El Defensor Chieftain photos

On May 6, the No. 1 Magdalena Steers defeated the No. 2 Melrose Buffaloes 56–43 to win the 1A State Basketball Championship.

“That last game, you have a mix of emotions,” Magdalena head coach Jory Mirabal said. “Obviously when you come off with a win, you have a better mix than a loss, but you fight each season with a group of guys and it’s the end of a ride for that group. I’m just so happy for the boys in that room, especially those two seniors. I’m just proud of them. The happiness mixed with the sadness that they are leaving is a feeling we will remember forever.”

Last year, Magdalena fell 63–53 to Pecos in the 2A championship. After the game, Joren Mirabal told JP Murrieta of the NMAA that the Steers would be back this season.

“I called my shot and as soon as we lost that game last year, I took a picture of the red trophy and put it as my screen saver on my phone,” Joren Mirabal said. “Man, I can’t tell you how excited I am to go in the locker room and change that screensaver. I’ve been waiting 14 months to do it. I hated getting on my phone. Every time I opened it, I saw that red trophy.”

It was a tough end to the season though for the Buffaloes who won the past three 1A state titles.

Magdalena head coach Jory Mirabal hugs Joren Mirabal after winning the state title.

“I’ve had so many good memories and I’m going to always remember the times I had with those guys on this floor and with my coach,” Melrose’s Tate Sorgen said. It’s just hard. It really is. It gets hard. As a senior, I really thought we could come in here and do it. Mag proved to be the better team today. All credit to them, they are an amazing team. I’m so happy to have been on this journey with these guys.”

Throughout the first half of the matchup, both teams showed what they were capable of. Melrose had an early 4–0 lead, but Magdalena made a quick comeback and went ahead 6–5 with 3:18 remaining in the first quarter.

Neither team was able to secure more than a two-point lead until time was dwindling down in the second quarter.

In the final two minutes left of the second and the game tied at 20, Joren Mirabal added eight points to the board via two 3-pointers and a basket from inside the paint. The Steers continued their run in the third quarter, allowing the Buffaloes to only add seven points to the board.

The third started off with two points from Melrose, but six Magdalena points extended their lead to 12.

Sorgen stopped the Steer’s run via a layup, but then Magdalena went on another six-point run. The quarter ended with five Magdalena points and three Melrose points to give the Steers a 45–27 lead.

Magdalena’s Mason Greenwood started off with the first two points of the fourth, but the quarter was dominated by Melrose as the Steers were outscored 16–11.

After two minutes of play in the fourth, a layup from Magdalena’s Isaac Lopez gave them a 20-point lead, but their lead was soon cut down to 10 after a Melrose run. In the final two minutes of the championship, Magdalena and Melrose added six and four points, respectively.

The No. 1 Magdalena Steers pose with the 1A State Basketball Championship trophy after defeating the No. 2 Melrose Buffaloes 56–43 on May 6. Joren Mirabal led the Steers with 22 points. Kael Stephens also scored in the double-digits with 13 points.
Caitie Ihrig | El Defensor Chieftain

Sorgen ended the game with 26 points for Melrose while teammates Devon Bailey, Brandon Garcia and Trace Jackson had nine, six, and two points, respectively.

Joren Mirabal finished with 22 points. Every Magdalena player added at least two points to the board and Kael Stephens was their only other player in the double-digits with 13 points.

“It was an unforgettable year,” Joren Mirabal said. “I would have never guessed that I would be playing the state championship in May. It was difficult waiting this long, but it was definitely worth it.”