St. Pius X knew it had to stop Bailey Beene coming into the game. They had mixed success. What they could not stop was Beene from being everywhere on the court. Beene had four block shots, five steals and eight assists, but it was not enough to overcome a St. Pius X defense, which forced the Lady Rockets to begin their offense above the free throw line.
The death knell for the Lady Rockets was the second quarter, after taking an 11-10 lead as P.J. Villareal was fouled at the end of the buzzer on a three-pointer. Villareal would make two free throws with no time left on the clock in the first quarter. Those would be the last points in the half for Goddard as they would lose the game to the Sartans, 39-33, at Ground Zero Thursday night.
“We’re typically a man defensive team,” St. Pius X coach Philip Griego said. “Goddard was so big and physical that we couldn’t contain them or keep them in front of us. They (Goddard) gave us trouble on the glass (rebounding) that we went to a 2-3 zone to match up with them. We tried to take the ball out of the paint and limit their opportunities inside.”
Goddard, (9-6), came out at halftime and forced the Sartans into seven turnovers and several missed shots as they got physical on the defensive end of the floor. Lacie Schooley was a force on both ends of the floor and also made several steals.
“We have to put the ball in the hole,” Goddard coach Jared Neighbors said. “At halftime, we were shooting 16 percent and to only be down by four at halftime — I felt good. We shot bad, we were four out of 24. When you shoot like that, you’re not going to be in a lot of games shooting that bad. Our defense plays hard, but at the end of the day, you have to put the ball in the hole and we’re just not doing that right now.”
Beene’s teammates Alexis Sandoval, Cielo and Alma Salinas, along with Tanya Ueland and others, added defensive pressure as they challenged every three-pointer and blocked the lane so St. Pius X could not drive the ball to the basket. Goddard held St. Pius X to five points in the second and third quarters.
Beene was fouled and hit two free throws to shrink the lead to 20-18 with 5:24 to play in the third quarter. From the top of the key, Beene hit another three-pointer to give the Lady Rockets a 21-20 lead with 3:27. Goodard defense played excellent as Schooley took a charge on the next possession. The lead would be short-lived as the Sartans’ Marissa Lovato hit a runner in the lane to retake the lead, 22-21, with 2:39 to play in the third quarter.
“We talked about the shooting percentages at halftime,” Griego said. “We shot 24 percent in the first half. We tried to extend our zone a little bit and keep an eye on Beene. We felt like everything they did ran through her. Anytime she got the ball, we gave extra help on her. We had two players digging from each side on her, plus a player on the ball. I thought Beene did a good job and she did a good job distributing the ball. I have seen all of the teams Goddard will play and I look for them to win the district.”
In the fourth quarter, the Lady Rockets allowed six points from the field. The Sartans would go to their stall game and played keep away as time ticked off the clock forcing Goddard to foul. Goddard would score 12 points in the final period, but it wasn’t enough as they ran out of time.
“We’re going to take everything out of this,” Neighbors said. “They (St. Pius X) are the No. 5 team in the coach’s poll — we played three out of the top eight teams in 4A and we’re close. We shot less than 25 percent in all three of those games — we just got to put the ball in the hole.”
Goddard hits the road Saturday to take on Chaparral at 2:30 p.m.