Coach Jory Mirabal makes a point during a timeout at the Magdalena Steers basketball camp last week.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain photos

Last week’s basketball camp in Magdalena was a chance for coaches to do a little scouting, but for Steers’ coach Jory Mirabal, it was business as usual, which means worrying about his own.

“Anybody who follows us knows we worry about us,” Mirabal said. “Other coaches may be out here scouting, but I am looking toward this team finding itself.”

The summer can be exhausting for bubble players like Ky Stephens who plays JV and varsity for Magdalena’s Steers.

That statement might seem trite to some fans, but it rings true considering Magdalena’s four straight state title appearances and two state championships in that time.

The Steers lost tremendous talent to graduation this season, and it will be up to Mirabal to find the pieces to return Magdalena to the 2024 state basketball tournament.

Early on, the frontrunners for the most court time are returning starters and big men Joe Zamora and Jeff Stuteville. Krae Stephens, who showed fantastic poise in last year’s postseason run, is another solid piece in the puzzle, but Mirabal will need more next year.

“I think your summer is where you do that you get to see what your kids need, where you’re at, what different groups play well together, you know, your strengths, your weaknesses, it’s about game time,” Mirabal said. “I have two key players back with Joe and Jeff; they will be in different roles. They weren’t the main guys last year. They will be this year, but now other guys are taking those spots that are left open by the kids that graduated.”

It’s the same song every season, but the dancers are always different for Mirabal. It’s also a murderous time if you are a bubble player trying to earn a seat on the Steers’ varsity program.

“For those guys, the summer is exhausting. You’re going to play a lot of games, and you’re going to play a lot of minutes. This is where we break down stuff. We do a lot of our fundamentals in the summertime. So, you’re getting exhausted; that would be the word,” Mirabal said.

The camp also allowed Mirabal’s former players to exercise their officiating skills with 2023 graduates like D’Shaun Vinyard, Josh Baca and Kaleb Castanon calling games.

“I have my former players here, and they’ve all become certified officials, so they are giving back to the program. I joked with one of the other teams that if they felt the competition wasn’t where it needed to be, I could always put the officials together to play against them,” Mirabal said.