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Coach Mestas likes what he sees

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Goddard basketball team recently completed their summer basketball camp with games at Eastern New Mexico University. Head coach Anthony Mestas likes what he sees from his team this summer. (Submitted Photo)

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Two-time Blue Trophy winner, Goddard coach Anthony Mestas is the dean of Chaves County coaches when it comes to active coaches with state titles. This is his 15th year on the bench and fifth at Goddard. In his previous stop at Hagerman, he turned a program not known for winning into a state champion, winning two titles in four years. It wasn’t until his sixth season that he won a title. This will be his fifth season on the bench at Goddard and Rocket basketball fans are hoping he can work the same magic he did in Hagerman.

Goddard’s fifth-year coach Anthony Mestas prowls the sideline during a game last season. The Rockets recently completed their summer basketball camp at Eastern Mexico University. (Submitted Photo)

Mestas decided to seek a bigger challenge to see if he can win at the District 4-5A level. So far, he has had mixed results and yet, he is the second-winningest coach in Goddard history. Based on what Mestas has seen during open gym, he feels like his team is turning the corner and will be a force to reckon with when the season starts, barring injury. One of the problems Mestas has faced is changing the culture at Goddard and getting away from just being known as a football school while trying to make the program competitive on the state level as well.

Last season the Rockets were 12-16 and lost quite a few games because of poor execution at the end of games and missed free throws. The injury bug hit, and at times the team had to play freshmen and sophomores, which will help this season.

Moving forward and putting last season behind them, the team has been going to basketball camps and played 21 games during summer basketball. New Mexico Preps has the Rockets ranked 10th out of 30 teams heading into the season — the highest they have ever been ranked pre-season.

Mestas loves the shape of his team and how positive and focused they are. Mestas feels like guard Jonah Chavez, who will be an All-State candidate next year, played lights out during the summer and improved his game. Coming into the season, Chavez is considered one of the top-50 players in the state, according to New Mexico Preps.

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Jon Carillo played well each game. Forward Hunter Beene played well in the paint and banged, and brings a physical and football mentality to the court. He has improved on his touch around the rim and is able to bang and get Goddard second possessions.

“Hunter (Beene) was outstanding this summer,” Mestas said. “He played aggressive defense, blocked shots and scored under the paint when we needed those inside shots. Since I’ve been at Goddard, I have never seen someone block so many shots and be the enforcer like him. He plays like Dennis Rodman. Beene shined all summer. We needed to establish depth so that when our starters need a breather during games, we can keep on going.”

Goddard has had new freshmen coming to basketball camp daily this summer for workouts. For the first time in a long time, he may have to cut some players. Mestas encourages the boys to work on their game, such as shooting, running and lifting until it is time to start fall sports.

Goddard will still play Roswell but with the reclassification, there is a new energy and excitement around Goddard basketball. The new district won’t get any easier — it will bring a new rival. Goddard will still play Artesia and Lovington, and instead of playing Roswell in the district, they will replace them with Portales.

“Being in a district with Artesia, Lovington and Portales will be a challenge,” Mestas said. “Artesia is the top dog in that district until someone knocks them off. This team of Goddard boys is going to be exciting to watch this coming season.”

Mestas feels like this team has the ability to be special. The kids like going to the gym to compete and work on their game and they enjoy spending time together as a group. The Rockets have a formidable group of players coming back and it all starts with the little general, Chavez and Carillo and Brandon Montanez.

“This is by far the most kids we have had in our summer program in five summers,” Mestas said. “Our numbers are going up with kids wanting to play and be a Rocket. It is nice to see little boys wearing our Goddard basketball shirts they got from our basketball camp. I feel like our coaching staff is top notch with Scott Austin, who played at Division I Oklahoma State; Fernando Sosa, who is a three-sport coach; and Eric Helmstetler who helps and molds our ninth-grade team.

On the inside, look for Beene to add a physical presence that few teams can match on both ends of the floor and then look for Ryan Terry to be able to add depth and play the three and four with quick thinking and for Derrick Carrica to make the right play. Carrica might be one of the best passing big men in the district.

“My administrative team of Brian Luck, Dennis Montanez, Ramon Miramontes and Debbi Norris have been outstanding and given me support throughout the process of this basketball program. I have become a better coach and I understand how hard it is to win now. I’m happy we are headed in the right direction with the program at GHS. I’m excited about next season.”