Home Sports Local Sports Undefeated Rockets to host district title game

Undefeated Rockets to host district title game

Goddard’s Jonah Chavez drives the lane against Portales Feb. 15 at Ground Zero. Goddard plays Portales tonight at 6 p.m. at Ground Zero for the District 4-4A tournament championship. (Steve Notz File Photo)

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The Goddard Rockets officially have a target on their back as the regular season district champions. They breezed through the district campaign undefeated, (6-0) — it is the Rockets first district title since 2012. Tonight, they will host the district tournament title game at 6 p.m., at Ground Zero against Portales, who defeated Artesia on Thursday night, 47-45.

Goddard’s Brandon Montanez drives toward the basket Feb. 16 against Portales at Ground Zero. (Steve Notz File Photo)

For coach Anthony Mestas, it’s his first district championship since he became head coach of the Rockets. Mestas felt early on this season, that this team had a special feeling about it. “This summer when we were at the ENMU team camp, I told my wife this team was going to be something special. I felt this team has all the components to make a serious run at the championship.” And Mestas should know he won two titles while coaching at Hagerman, and one of those was with an undefeated team.

A new alignment of teams in the district this season included Portales, Artesia and Lovington and they were competitive, but Goddard was better. The Rockets were averaging 53 points against them and only allowing 41 points on defense. The only close game was against Portales in the district opener, 45-42. The blowout game came against Lovington in the second half of district play, 54-29.

“We are playing good team-ball right now,” said Mestas. “We have been working on tightening up our defensive mechanics and working on our free throw shooting. We shot excellent last Friday night in Artesia — that’s what won us the game, 78 percent from the line. That was excellent,” said Mestas.

Entering tonight’s game, since the Rockets haven’t played in a week, is there concern that a little rust may have set in and the team may come out playing fat?

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“We want to play but it’s also good for us to have a little downtime,” Mestas said.

It seems like the Rockets have been playing forever without a break this season. Right after the Poe Corn tournament in which they played three games, Goddard hardly took a break. They played on Jan. 3, 4 and 5 and the teams they played were no pushovers. They played Taos, Moriarty and Pojoaque, losing only to Taos. Then add teams like Manzano, and Onate earlier in the season, and it was a very tough non-conference schedule.

“I really believe that those tough non-conference games got us ready for district. It made us get better and we improved each and every game,” Mestas said.

So that week-long break comes at the right time for Goddard — kind of like an open week in football. This team has jelled very well the last few weeks, with Jonah Chavez and Brandon Montanez running the offense. Then you add Jon Carrillo, considered one of the best defenders in the district along with big man Derek Carrica.

“For the first time in a long, we have depth on the bench,” Mestas emphasized. Recently, freshman Noah Reese was added to the roster and in his first game on the varsity, he scored 22 points. “We have very good chemistry,” Mestas added.

The Rockets also are one of the hottest teams in 4A. Goddard has won seven consecutive games entering tonight’s contest. The last time Goddard lost was to Clovis, 72-62, on Jan. 22. “I attribute that to our senior leadership, and they are demanding that the others play at the highest level do, too,” said Mestas.

Make no mistake about it, though, Goddard is not looking past Portales tonight. One slip up and this tremendous run to The Pit is over.

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