Home Sports Local Sports Goddard advances to Artesia for title game

Goddard advances to Artesia for title game

Goddard High School junior Bailey Beene takes a shot against Roswell Thursday the Ground Zero. (Steve Notz Photo)

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Whew! Spent, exhausted was the feeling of both teams as Roswell and Goddard staged another heavyweight fight for the ages. The only hope of these teams seeing each other again would be at state. Both teams are 2-2 against each other for the season.

Goddard held Roswell without a basket for the last five minutes of the third quarter and a minute into the fourth quarter as Bailey Beene and Camarynn Villalpando scored seven points to give the host Lady Rockets a come-from-behind victory over the Lady Coyotes, 33-28, Thursday night at Ground Zero.

“I just didn’t think we played very well in the second half offensively,” Coyotes coach Fernando Sanchez said. “I think our inability to score really hurt us in the second half. I thought we did a good job defensively. Anytime you hold a good team to 33 points, you got to feel like you have a shot. Shots didn’t fall, and I think we’re more tired than we care to admit, but that’s part of the game at this point of the season.”

Sanchez had trouble finding scoring in the third quarter, as his team went cold from the field. They were held without a basket for four minutes when Kaitlyn Holl made two free throws. With 45 seconds left, Sanchez substituted his starting five with another five players in hopes of keeping his players out of foul trouble and getting offense for defense. Goddard held and pushed the ball to the basket but couldn’t score. RHS Kaileigh Holloway made two free throws with 59.2 seconds left as Roswell scored six points in the third period to take a 26-22 lead.

With the Lady Rockets tournament season on the line, coach Jared Neighbors exhorted his team to make a stand in the remaining minute of the third quarter. Neighbors believed he had substituted enough that his players would be fresh for the fourth quarter. To get to the fourth quarter, he needed his team to make a final stop and told them so in their timeout with 35 seconds left in the third period. Neither team scored again.

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“Defense is one of our top-notch keys to our teams,” Goddard guard Allie French said. “We work on it extensively every day, and we just go all out. We don’t hold back. I love it.”

In the fourth quarter, with fresh legs, GHS turned up the defensive intensity as Beene scored on the inside driving the lane to cut Roswell’s lead to 28-26. Goddard continued to push the pace as Villalpando hit a three-ball to give the Lady Rockets a 29-28 with 4:23 in the fourth quarter. This was Goddard’s first lead of the game since they led 4-2 with 6:07 to play in the first quarter. Villalpando grabbed a rebound and went coast-to-coast scoring on a layup as they led 31-28 with 1:48 to play in the game.

“We knew this was an important game,” Lady Rockets’ Villalpando said. “We’ve never been to a district championship game, so that was our goal. We knew we weren’t behind that bad at all. We just had to keep our focus, and we knew what it took to be where we wanted to be.”

The Lady Coyotes had no legs and turned the ball over on their last three possessions. Holl fouled out with 31 seconds left to play. Roswell was spent and could not generate any offense in the second half as they were outscored 11-2 by Goddard in the fourth quarter.

“It was a great rivalry game with two teams that are evenly matched,“ coach Neighbors said. “They got us the last two times down the stretch, and we got them this time. We executed better down the stretch. Just a fun game to play, rivalry, good crowd, we just executed better down the stretch than they did. I felt that was the difference, we got some loose balls and rebounds and second shots down the stretch.”

The Lady Rockets face the Lady Dogs where they have defeated them twice this season. Goddard defeated Artesia in overtime 60-49 on Feb. 2. That win jump-started their district season as they came from seven points down in the middle of the third quarter to tie the game late in the fourth quarter to force overtime.

On Feb. 16 Goddard went into the Bulldog Pit and laid them out 57-35, in a game that wasn’t close; their win ended up forcing a play-in game to decide the winner of the district. Artesia won, 50-47, on Saturday to become district champs. As champions, Artesia had a bye this whole playoff week.

“It is actually really cool to be a part of something for the first time,” French said. “Like last year the state championship team. It is a blessing to be able to be a part of something and share this memory with others. Our determination is not just getting there — let’s go win it.”

Sports writer J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.

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