It’s been two weeks since Lady Rockets’ basketball coach Jared Neighbors has had his team together, after volleyball and soccer season ended. In their third game of the season Goddard outplayed the No. 2 team Carlsbad in District 4-6A, giving them fits in the first half. Not only did they have Carlsbad worried; they were ahead, 26-21 at halftime.
In the second half, Carlsbad continued to force tempo and press as Goddard turned the ball over and missed open shots. With a lack of depth and having to expend energy playing both sides of the court wore the Lady Rockets, which affected their jump shot. Goddard kept the game close with their hustle. Finally, in the third quarter, Carlsbad took control of the game and cruised to a 53-31 win at Ground Zero Tuesday night.
“The final score of the game isn’t reflective of what my ladies did,” Neighbors said. “I was very pleased; we came out fighting, and we’re trying to get into shape. We need a little more depth.”
Coming out of the break after halftime, Goddard was able to defend the perimeter well. With 4:52 left in the third quarter, Goddard’s Bailey Beene hit a three-point shot from the right elbow to give them a 29-27 lead. Goddard had trouble stopping Carlsbad’s Carsyn Boswell from penetrating the lane, and stopping her from getting into the lane on the fast break as Carlsbad took a 31-29 lead with 3:01 left in the third quarter.
Camaryn Villalpando led all Goddard scorers with 14 points, and four assists. Beene contributed nine points and had a couple of shots go in only to come out. Eden Wiggins scored six points, and senior Allie French added two points.
“I was very please for my kids fighting that hard,” Neighbors said. “We have some things we need to work on. Our kids made some bad decisions when they were fatigued, but that is something we will work on. We played the No.1 (Hobbs) and No.2 team in 6A back-to-back is only going to make us better.”
Goddard and Roswell on paper look to have the two hardest schedules in 5A basketball this season. Neighbors doesn’t like losing, but likes that his team is getting better and learning from their early-season losses. Goddard is trying to learn what role each team member will play.
The Lady Rockets will get back into 5A basketball play this week when they play in the Armendariz Tournament.
With six seniors gone from their state championship team, coach Neighbors is looking for his team to gain their competitive spirit which they had last year.
“I’m excited by what I saw out there tonight,” Neighbors said. “We just have to keep improving and getting better.”
Coming out of camp, Neighbors expects Wiggins is going to have a bigger role on the team. Beene and Villalpando are going to have to produce like they have done. French, Amber Aguilar and Grace Shea are going to be counted onto play big minutes and big production, rebounding and role playing. Neighbors felt like those three gave the effort he was expecting from them tonight. He also expects junior Cielo Salinas is being counted on for big minutes.
What could potentially derail the Lady Rockets’ season is injuries and foul trouble, as they do not have depth. Neighbors is quick to note that they beat the No.1 team in the state last year at the Pit for their state championship playing seven players.
When Goddard is on offense, they look forward to running the ball when they have numbers, if not, they will set up and run their half-court offense. On defense, they want to stay in their 2-3 zone with a little trap to stay out of foul trouble. With nine players on the team look for all of them to play meaningful minutes during the season.
Goddard returns to the court against Espanola Valley in the Armendariz Tournament at 11.a.m. Thursday.