The Goddard Lady Rocket basketball team’s hopes of a repeat state championship ended in the first round of the NMAA 5A state tourney as they fell to the visiting Miyamura Patriots 38-26. The Lady Rockets could never get untrack offensively as they lost to the upstart Patriots who used a game defining 16-0 run in the third quarter to gain the mild upset win and advance to the quarterfinal round.
“I’m so proud of being the coach here at Goddard High School having the kind of kids we have,” stated coach Jared Neighbors. “I can’t say enough about the program – and the main part of the program – the kids in the program. Just to have that group of young ladies was great. The main thing I’m missing is another week with them. It’s just a pleasure and an honor to coach kids that understand what we’re about and accept a role and play hard and get along. They do what their coaches say and get along with co-workers and talk about life. I’m just proud of being a part of that and I’m just going to miss them.”
The Patriots, playing in their first state tourney since 2014, were well prepared for the game and came in with numerous accolades despite their 13-15 record. The Patriots had wins over the #3, #4, and #5 seeds during the regular season and had played nine 6A teams, so Miyamura was used to playing in – and winning big games.
Coach Neighbors was very complimentary to the Patriots and their big win. “They had a losing record, but look who they’ve played. Look who they’ve beat. This was a tough matchup. Miyamura is good. They are scrappy. They played hard and they played well. I give them props. I give them 100% credit. They played better than us tonight.”
The Rockets saw their six seniors – Amber Aguilar, Allie French, Camarynn Villalpando, Eden Wiggins, Samantha Rodrigruez, and Grace Shea – play their final games in high school. All played key roles during the season and will be greatly missed for the 2018-19 season.
The Rockets got off to a quick 5-0 lead as PJ Villareal hit a three and French a short jumper as both teams saw their shooting fail them. As cold as the Rockets were, the Patriots were not better as they opened the game 0-for-8 with no offensive rebounds.
The Patriots would fix their shooting woes, but the Rockets never seemed to get untracked.
Miyamura would see Autumn Enote hit a three with 2:59 remaining in the quarter to spark a 7-0 quarter-ending run. Back-to-back Rocket turnovers led to late transition hoops as the Patriots were up 7-5 after one quick quarter.
The Patriots started to employ a full-court press in the second quarter and it payed dividends as the Rockets had problems with the new-found pressure employed by the visitors.
The second quarter saw the Rockets lead briefly 10-9 at the 5:32 mark following a steal and a coast-to-coast layup by Bailey Beene, but the Patriots would answer with a 7-0 run to make it 16-10.
A late bucket by French would make it 16-12 at the break.
The Rockets would open the second half with a flourish as Villalpando and Beene both got hoops down low and Villareal would hit a couple of freebies for an 18-16 Rocket lead. It would be the last lead for the hosts.
The Patriots would go on a game-defining 16-0 run that would last the rest of the quarter and the begininng of the final quarter. The run would see Enote, who had come off the bench, make three hoops to give the visitors a commanding 30-18 lead heading into the final frame.
The fourth quarter was played on even terms as the hosts pressed and fought to the end but could not hit the easy buckets, and the visitors playing a lot of “keep-away” with the big lead.
Villalpando would score six of the Rockets’ 8 points, but it was not near enough as the Patriots went up by 16 and then eventually weathered a late storm to earn the 38-26 victory.
Coach Neighbors, as his wont, kept the game in perspective. “Before the game we talked about when Joseph (from the bible) was kind of…had some rough times early in life, (and) his father blessed him. He kept his boat straight when people were attacking him. We kind of felt attacked and disrespected all year, but the girls kept their boat straight. And, even after the loss, I felt we did that. We kept the boat straight and took the attacks. We played hard to the finish. Regardless of the outcome – wins and losses – I’m just super proud of them.”
With the loss, the Rockets – district 4 champs – finish the season with a respectable 17-13 record.