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Lady Rockets ready for title defense

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Goddard’s Bailey Beene guards Artesia’s Gracie Puentes as Camrynn Villalpondo stands in the free throw lane during last Friday’s district tournament title game in Artesia. The Lady Rockets won the contest and will host Miyamura Friday night in the opening round of the state tournament. (Greg Brown Photo)

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Goddard Lady Rockets Head Basketball Coach Jared Neighbors figured his team would be the no. 6 seed heading into this weekend’s first round action of the state basketball tournament.

The Lady Rockets (17-12) host Gallup Miyamura(13-15) Friday at 6 p.m. at Ground Zero in Roswell. The visiting squad in the no. 11 seed.

“I know this year has been crazy,” Neighbors said. “I think our district just shows how evenly matched it is.”

The Lady Rockets finished in a regular season tie for first place with Artesia, Lovington and Roswell. That forced a playoff game between the Lady Rockets and the Lady Dogs last week.

Artesia won that game and was the top team in the district postseason tournament. Goddard defeated the survivor of the Lovington-Roswell game in the opening round and faced Artesia last Friday in the title game. The Lady Rockets won it.

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When it comes to the Patriots Neighbors is excited to play them.

“We’re just ready to get going,” he said.

Neighbors said Miyamura is, “scrappy.”

“They remind me a lot of Artesia, they get after it, they play hard. They got some good shooters,” he added.

“Teams up north play a lot of basketball and you can tell, that they play a lot up there. We’re just excited to see them and we’re feeling like our district has prepared us for them,” Neighbors said.

Friday night the Lady Rockets begin the quest to defend the 5A title they won last season. Neighbors was asked what his team was doing to get ready for the game.

“We’re just taking it a game at a time,” he said. “We kind of played our last few games in district kind of with our back against the wall, we’ve come to treat it like the playoffs, if we lose we go home.”

Last Friday night against Artesia, Goddard’s leading scorer was senior Camrynn Villapondo. She had 24 points and junior Bailey Beene had 13 in the Lady Rockets 45-41 win.

“Our goal was to host the first round, we did that. Our next goal is to get The Pit (in Albuquerque), one game will get us there. We just gotta play well and get ready to fight hard,” Neighbors said.