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Lady Rockets, Coyotes continue district play

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Nothing needs to be said, both Lady Rockets and Coyotes know that with three games left in district play, it is time to turn up. Both teams find themselves in the enviable position of having to take care of business tonight and then having to defeat Lovington and Artesia.

Both Lovington and Artesia face off tonight for what is first-place in 5A. Both teams enter the game with 2-1 records in 5A tied for first-place.

The Lady Coyotes won a 33-32 when a last-second shot fell short of the rim. In that game, both teams scraped and scratched each possession like it was their last. Roswell played inspired basketball because their junior varsity player, Asper Kennard tore her anterior cruciate ligament.

In that game, the Lady Coyotes received big games from point guard Anica Dillard. The Lady Rockets had trouble on both ends of the floor keeping up with Kaitlyn Holl. Holl drove baseline and scored on a jumper to give Roswell their first lead of the game with one-minute left.

With momentum heading into the next two games, Roswell has not played well at home and has been bitten by the turnover bug. Against Artesia, the Lady Rockets had trouble with their extended 1-2-1 press as they had to start their offense from just over the half court if they were not turning the ball over. In that game, Roswell cut the lead to four points and had a chance to come within one possession of tying the game, but they threw the ball away.

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If the Coyotes are going to make some noise in the postseason, they are going to have to get scoring from someone other than Holl. Dillard and Cheyenne Martinez along with Alexandra Gonzalez are capable of stepping up. Gonzalez can continue to play hard but needs to stay out of foul trouble. Roswell has been getting a lot of good looks on the inside as sophomore Makenzie Tarin has vastly improved as the season has gone on. Some of the shots she has gotten blocked in the paint this year. If she continues to work on her game, it won’t happen. Those shots will be the one. Roswell must continue to look for her on the block and allow her to take her shots. Tarin has kept balls alive by battling on the glass and played good defense.

Roswell coach Fernando Sanchez has done a good job adjusting defenses and trying to keep his team out of foul trouble. One of the knocks against this team is they have trouble handling the press and if a team speeds them up, they have trouble handling the ball. Teams that want to run have given the Lady Coyotes trouble.

“We haven’t been a good home team this year,” Sanchez said. “But we have to play better and make plays and hit our free throws for us to be successful.”

Goddard won their first meeting of the season, 55-44 at the Goddard Tournament for third-place on Dec. 30.

Goddard

The one game that turned their season around was on Friday night, as they battled back from a six-point deficit to win in overtime. If they lost that game to Artesia, it would put them in at 0-3 district record and forced them to have to win out and get some help from other teams to defeat Artesia as the Lady Dogs would have had a commanding 3-0 lead with three games to play.

In what Goddard coach Jared Neighbors has adapted a motto: “Do whatever it takes.”

What it took was heart, fight and guts for the Lady Rockets to tie the game up at 46-46 with 36 seconds left against Artesia.

Romans 5, says, “Suffering produces perseverance.” Neighbors said, “perseverance produces character; and with character, hope.”

Right now, if teams are going to dethrone the reigning state champions, they are going to have to beat them, the Lady Rockets don’t want to beat themselves. Goddard has been getting outstanding play. Their big three in Bailey Beene, Camarynn Villalpando, Eden Wiggins, in points and assists. There have been other players on the team that have taken their role and expanded it and become key contributors, Grace Shea has been the perfect teammate to run the defense and grab rebounds and make sure they are in the right defensive sets. Cielo Salinas has come in and been able to make contributions on both ends of the floor. Allie French has been steady on the defensive end of the floor.

Goddard likes to push the ball when they have numbers; one thing they have to do better is make the most of their second-chance opportunities. They are a good rebounding team. They will turn the ball over and allow teams to get back into the game if their outside shot is not falling.

Neighbors hopes to see the fruit of his faith in his team during the stretch run of district play, which begins tonight. Last season, Neighbors’ faith in his team helped them win a Blue Trophy.

Goddard plays at the Coyote Den at 7 p.m. Today.