Home Sports Local Sports Goddard’s still alive in district play

Goddard’s still alive in district play

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Goddard High School sophomore Brandon Montanez passes the ball to a teammate Friday at Ground Zero. (Steve Notz Photo)

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A lot of District 5A teams were already shoveling dirt on the Goddard boys’ basketball team’s coffin through the first 24 games of the season. And for the first 16 minutes of their game against Artesia, only true die-hard fans held out hope.

Goddard trailed from the beginning of the game until power forward Derek Carrica, who played big all night, scored on a putback basket with 25.8 seconds left to give the Rockets their first lead of the game, as they hung on to win, 38-37, at Ground Zero on Friday night.

“Finally,” Mestas said. “We got a big win, and we are in the mix now. We beat the No.1 team in the district. That win right there is going to show everyone that we can fight, that we can still win and battle. We were down double digits. We had some stops and big rebounds. It was a great team effort and win. We needed it bad.”

Goddard guard Jonah Chavez gave his team momentum when he beat two Bulldog defenders over the half-court line and hoisted a three-point shot that singed the nets as time expired to trail at halftime 27-19.

“I was able to help my team overcome and get this win,” Chavez said, “our lower classmen were able to play well and help us get the win.”

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In the second half, the Rockets, perhaps playing for their season, played inspired basketball. On a night when Dalin Stanford was in foul trouble and didn’t have his best night, others on the team picked up the slack.

In a game that was clean but physical, Goddard asserted their will over the Bulldogs in the third quarter. They did this by putting a body on them as they ran through the lane. Floor general Chavez hounded Artesia’s guards as he pick-pocketed them with 11 steals. Goddard held Artesia without scoring for 6:32 in the third quarter and allowed them a one-shot attempt at the basket. The Rockets were so physical they threw Artesia off their offense and held them to two points in the third quarter.

“I told them (Goddard) we had to get strong,” Mestas said, “we had to get physical, and we brought Hunter (Beene) in. Beene brings some mental toughness and football toughness that we needed tonight. Overall, we held them to 10 points total in the second half.”

Slowly, Goddard fought their way back into the game as Carrica came up big on both sides of the court. Carrica led the comeback by scoring four of his team-high 16 points in the third quarter. Jonathon Carrillo made two free-throws as they were down, 29-24.

Coach Anthony Mestas used frequent substitutions to keep his players fresh and out of foul trouble. Hunter Beene brought a physical presence to the inside as he banged down low and picked up several loose balls, and grabbed rebounds, to give his team extra positions. Mestas ran the offense through Beene at times. Mestas would yell for his team to run a play called “white” in their half-court offense. Beene scored on a twisting shot in the lane as he was contested by Bulldogs’ defenders. Beene scored the basket to bring the Rockets with six points, 34-28 with 5:34 to play in the game.

“I thought it was a really hard-fought game,” Beene said. “We just had to chip back the entire game after a slow start. We ended up doing it as a team.”

Carrica played outstanding defense, and as was the focal point of Goddard’s offense, as he was a safety valve when their guards were trapped or picked up their dribble. Carrica made the right pass, set solid screens and rebounded on both ends of the floor in his best overall game of the season.

“We started real slow,” Carrica said. “We ran a good pick-and-roll at the end and hit some open shots. A bunch of second string guys really stepped up this game. Coach (Mestas) told me to take my shot if I had it. I found my rhythm, and it did me good. Rebounds were a key to this game.”

He stood toe-to-toe with Artesia’s big man Taylor Null. He limited Null on offense the boards and forced him to pick up his dribble when he would drive baseline. Both big men banged, with Carrica getting the best of this matchup.

“I don’t know if we were overconfident,” Artesia coach Michael Mondragon said. “We played horrible, there are no ifs, and or buts about it. We may have been overconfident off of Tuesday’s win over Roswell. We just didn’t play well tonight. It’s nice because we control our own destiny, two out of the next three are at our place.”

Goddard received a huge game from another unsung hero as Tommy Madrid scored seven points on bombs to keep his team in the game and provided much need scoring when Goddard needed a basket.

“We beat No.1 in District, “Carrica said, “we are back in it. “Artesia coach (Michael Mondragon) said we are going to play Roswell two more times, but we are going to be there. It is not going to be that easy on Artesia.”