Magdalena’s D’Shaun Vinyard slams home a dunk during the Steers 61-39 win over Socorro.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain

The unofficial Socorro County boys basketball title belongs to Magdalena after the No. 1 Class A Steers handed Socorro a 61-39 on Jan. 5.

Magdalena (14-0) handed Alamo Navajo a 57-18 loss to open the Steers’ season and used a smothering defense to hold the Warriors to just six third-quarter points.

The matchup is just another example of the brutal schedule Socorro coach J.J. Griego set up for his team, and the Warriors have responded with lights-on-and-off-basketball.

Socorro has been brilliant at times but has played some sloppy basketball, to Griego’s frustration.

“We’ve got to understand that when they change defense on us, we need to use our size – we have to push it constantly. We did that the first half, we pushed it, and you got to get them on the back on their heels throughout the game,” Griego said. “Our bench is short on experience, which is a factor for us.”

A massive factor if the starting five gets tagged with fouls early, sending the Steers to the free-throw line, and they make all their shots, like Kael Stephens and D’Shaun Vinyard did  as Magdalena established a 16-8 first-quarter lead.

The Warriors’ Warren Chewiwi, William Griego, Marcus Armijo and Damian Greenwood all sank baskets in the frame, but the Steers’ defense kept anyone from scoring more than once. That was almost the same case in the second quarter before Chewiwi popped in half of Socorro’s 14 points to pull within four points, 26-22.

Any hopes of an upset were quickly erased as the Steers pulled away with a 16-6 third quarter, and as Magdalena coach Jory Mirabal explained, it was about his team’s focus.

“I mean, obviously, we blocked out, had better rebounding,” Mirabal said. “I think we just got back to basics in the second half. You come out in this type of rivalry game with all the excitement and hype — I don’t know that we responded well. We came out and burnt a bunch of energy not doing much right, and kind of ran around in circles.”

Still, this is the kind of game Mirabal relishes as a coach, much like when his then No. 2 Steers went on the road and topped No. 1 Fort Sumner/House on Dec. 29. Magdalena came home with a 43-39 victory and stopped all the debate caused by House overtaking them in the basketball polls.

“Fort Sumner deserved all the hype. They’re a good team, and for us to go on their floor and win, that’s big. That’s the thing you saw again defensively tonight when we decided to lock down and not give up scores tonight. They were (the Warriors) hitting some big shots, but they didn’t get any easy looks.”

Magdalena hosts Capitan. Jan 12 before opening District 2 1A play on the road Jan. 19 against Reserve. Socorro still has lots of prep time in its regular season and will play an eight-game stretch on the road. The Warriors travel to Del Norte on Jan. 12 and , Valencia on Jan. 13.


Magdalena—Kael Stephens 12, D’Shaun Vinyard 20, Jeff Stuteville 10, Krae Stephens 2, Joseph Zamora 17.

Socorro—Warren Chewiwi 12, William Griego 4, Marcus Armijo 15, Damian Greenwood 8.