Home Sports Local Sports Goddard’s Carrica looks to own the paint

Goddard’s Carrica looks to own the paint

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Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

There comes a time in a person’s life when they’re going to be called upon. Whether it’s accepting a promotion at work, learning a new skill or — in the case of Goddard senior center Derek Carrica — stepping up to play in his first varsity basketball game as a freshman.

“That first year I didn’t play much on varsity,” Carrica recalls.

“In one of those games one our centers was not playing well and the other got hurt.”

The coach looked down the bench, and said, “Carrica you’re in. I was nervous as can be but I wasn’t going to turn down the chance to play in a varsity game.”

Except for an occasional rest, Carrica doesn’t warm the bench that much anymore. He has become one of the most dominant big men in the state and certainly in the district.

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At 6-5 and 220 pounds, nobody is pushing this kid around. Carrica is averaging about 12 points a game, about nine rebounds a game and dishing out about eight assists per game.

Derek wanted to play at Goddard ever since the days of other former Rockets, like Chase Salazar who led Goddard to the 2010 4A championship game at The Pit, where Espanola Valley rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Goddard, 55-52.

“Me and my dad were at that game, it was crazy, the whole Pit was filled with about 80 percent Espanola fans. That’s when I realized that I wanted to be a Rocket,” said Derek.

But in his sophomore season, “I wasn’t having any fun and I didn’t play on any of the other varsity sports. After talking with my dad I decided I was going to stay,” Derek said.

Since he began playing basketball, his father, Michael Carrica, has worked on his son’s game. “He works on my moves. To make me stronger he pushes me around,” Carrica says with a smirk.

Derek’s dad, who played a little high school ball, is a big guy too. He coached Derek in youth football and basketball leagues. “Yeah he was a good coach, but he’s my father first and foremost he always has my back,” said Derek.

And what he has learned from his dad, Derek has applied on the court — especially to his teammates who may not get much playing time. “I tell them, your time is going to come, learn to be a teammate first. And when they’re on the sideline cheer us on, it really helps the team.”

This season, the New Mexico Activities Association realigned classifications and districts in every varsity sport. Based on each school’s enrollment, Roswell High was moved to 5A and Goddard was dropped to 4A in basketball.

What that move did was eliminate the natural rivalry between the two schools. They used to meet in district play with a lot of stake — now it’s a non-conference game that Roswell won at the Den in the first matchup this season. The rematch is set for Tuesday at Ground Zero.

“We may not play them in district anymore but that’s still an intense game. For us seniors it’s the last time we’ll ever play them. We’ll give it our best shot.” Derek added.

Goddard Coach Anthony Mestas makes the point, “Playing them makes us better. Any program that has that kind of tradition will help us as get ready for our district schedule.”

Derek says after his high school playing career comes to an end — and hopefully it will be with a 4A gold medal around his neck and a chance to hold the Blue Trophy — that he will turn his attention to studying for a petroleum engineering degree at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.

“Hey there is a time to play, and a time to get paid.” As for his legacy? “I want them to remember that I owned the paint.”

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