Magdelena’s Kael Stephens works his way out of the corner and to the basket against Mesilla Valley.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain

The longest winning streak in New Mexico high school boys basketball stretched to 33 games as Magdalena improved to 18-0 on Jan. 21 with a solid 75-35 District 2 1A win against Mesilla Valley Christian School.

Before Saturday’s contest, 5A Volcano Vista was the only other undefeated boys team in the state, but the Hawks fell to Cleveland 53-50 leaving the Steers as the only team with an unblemished slate. Volcano’s 47-game winning streak is the third longest in New Mexico and was just six games behind the Hobbs’ all-time mark of 53 contests.

That fact springs up after the Steers got a measure of revenge against the only team to beat them during last year’s title run. Tularosa topped Magdalena 67-56 last year, but the Wildcats were no match for the Steers on Jan. 20 in a 63-25 revenge win for the defending state champions.

Winning streaks are hard to maintain, and the records are elusive, but for those who are counting, Magdalena is a stunning 93-2 over the last four seasons.

Magdalena’s D’Shaun Vinyard weaves his way through the air and a pair of Mesilla Valley defenders.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain

The Wildcats and winning streaks were the last things on the Steers’ minds as they matched up against Mesilla Valley, and while it’s sometimes hard to draw praise out of Magdalena coach Jory Mirabal, he did admit his team’s inside is progressing as he hoped.

“I think we’re making progress in that direction as far as are we, where we want to be right now? Yes, we are, but we want to be in a different place in eight weeks.” Mirabal said.

If Mirabal is where he wants to be in eight weeks, it will be hoisting up his team’s third straight state trophy, and the Steers certainly have the tools to get the job done.

Against Mesilla, the Steers opened up with an 18-9 run and nearly doubled up on the SonBlazers with a 21-11 second quarter. Kael Stephens blistered the net in the first frame with eight points, Joseph Zamora caught fire during the second with 10 points, and he stayed on target in the second half with nine third-quarter points.

The SonBlazers placed a lot of their defensive focus on D’Shaun Vinyard, who had 20 points on the evening while making multiple trips to the free-throw line. Vinyard had 10 of the Steers’ 14 free-throw opportunities.

Zamora’s 25 points topped all scorers, and Stephens had 18, which is the basic formula that Mirabal is looking for to round out his team’s offense.

“There’s still room to grow. But yeah, I’ve seen that transition (the growth of the Steers’ inside game) over the course of the summer into the offseason into the first games to now where we’re a lot more comfortable in the sets that we’re trying to run,” Mirabal said.

In their district opener against Reserve, Stephens had a season-high 25 points. Jeff Stuteville had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, and 6th man Kaleb Castanon scored a career-high 12 points.

Castanon also provided a defensive spark when he got into the action against the SonBlazers.

“Caleb is a little sparkplug. I mean, he’s our energy guy. He’s been waiting for his chance, and he works hard and practices tough. He took a year off, and he’s gotten back into it the last two years, and he provides that energy,” Mirabal said. “Then tonight we’re playing against the team that runs five guards, and so I wasn’t able necessarily defensively to use my big guys the way I wanted to with Jeffery’s foul trouble.”

The Steers are road-tripping this week with a Jan. 26 game at Animas and then a battle against Cliff to determine who will be the district’s first-half frontrunner on Jan. 28. Magdalena returns home Feb. 2 and 4 for games against Quemado and Reserve.