In a game that was like pulling teeth to find any offense, Goddard showed why they won district in the regular season and the district tournament. It looked like the game would be a formality as they punched their ticket to Albuquerque.
The game turned out to be anything but a walk in the park. If it wasn’t for Goddard’s two Most Valuable Players in Jon “Lockdown” Carrillo and Noah “Young Money” Reese, Goddard would be out of the tournament. Goddard needed a defensive stop to win, 31-29 over the Portales Rams at Ground Zero Saturday night.
“Excited,” Goddard coach Anthony Mestas said. “Heck yeah, it’s been five years since we’ve been to The Pit and now we’re going back. The biggest play of the game was made by a freshman who took the charge. If that was a block, it’s two points and a free throw and they could have gone up by one point. Noah Reese the freshman took charge in the biggest moment of the game.”
Thanks to the timely defense of Carrillo on Portales’ Julian Urioste and Kellan Hightower, the Rockets’ were able to scratch and claw their way back into the game and take the lead, 21-18 with 53 seconds left in the third quarter.
“Jon Carrillo played big-time,” Mestas said. “He balled out scoring 12 points. He’s huge, he’s Gary Payton, he’s locking those kids down, man. He hit some big shots against that zone and he hustled his butt off. He’s player of the game and Noah (Reese) had the play of the game.”
Goddard had to scramble after Jonah “The Little General” fouled out with 58.2 seconds left when he was called for blocking a foul as he tried to beat Hightower to the spot near half court as he brought the ball up.
“That kid (Chavez) is a blessing,” Mestas said, “to have him here at Goddard. He (Chavez) came from Dexter, the kid makes first-team all-state football and he made all-district last year in basketball, and probably gonna be more this year. I mean, he has the heart and desire to be out there — he’s a blessing. I’m happy he’s out here.”
Hightower hit both free throws to bring Portales to within one point as they trailed 28-27. On the next possession, Goddard’s Brandon Montanez was fouled and hit two free throws with 42.4 seconds to play in the game and give them a 30-27 lead.
Portales’ Enrique Diaz scored on a jumper in the lane with 24.1 seconds left in the game. The Rams fouled Carrillo to send him to the free throw line. Carrillo made one out of two to give the Rockets a 31-29 lead with 20.8 seconds to play.
The play that saved Goddard’s season was when Portales ended up with the ball after a missed free throw. The Rams’ Hightower beat his man off the dribble and was in the lane. He went up strong over Derek Carrica and another Goddard player, Reese, slid in front of Hightower as the ball fell through the basket. Portales’ coaches were shouting, “and one” when the whistle blew with five seconds left on the clock.
The referee tossed his hands in front of his face and was waving off the basket and gave the charge signal on Hightower. Portales’ bench went crazy. Carrica inbounded the ball to Carrillo as he dribbled and then threw the ball up in the air as time ticked off the clock to send the Rockets to Albuquerque where they will face Silver, after they beat Ruidoso, 55-44, on Saturday.
“I’m so happy right now,” Mestas said. “Going to The Pit, that’s the mecca of basketball right there. Every kid wants to play in The Pit and not every kid gets the chance. Every coach wants to coach in The Pit and not every coach gets the chance to do it. I’m just happy. I told the kids they don’t understand how it is to walk down that ramp and just play in that Pit. It is something they’ll never forget, and I’m so happy they are going to get to do it.”
Goddard (19-9) will face Silver on Wednesday at 8 a.m. at Dreamstyle Arena (The Pit).
Gateway Christian 51, Elida 29
The Gateway Warriors were the last of the four Chaves County high school basketball teams to qualify for the 2019 state basketball playoffs with its 51-29 win over the Elida Tigers Saturday night at the Gateway gym.
Jaydon Stephens led the way for Gateway with 28 points. The Tigers brought some skin to the game, they upset the Warriors on Feb. 15, with a 62-59 overtime win at Elida in the district. However, they also lost at Gateway, 47-41 in the rematch on Feb. 28 in district play.
So the Warriors had concerns about Elida, and for one particular reason, the Tigers were more of a spaghetti-shooting basketball team — whatever they shot, they hoped it would hit the iron and go in. As a matter of fact, their first shot of the game found the net, it was their first and only lead, 2-0.
After that, they missed on eight consecutive shots, at that point their shooting was more like a can of SpaghettiOs surprise. The Warriors, on the other hand, would not let the Tiger out of its cage.
They hit back to back triples on their first two possessions of the game, for a 6-2 lead. Later, they built that to a 13-3 lead and by the end of the quarter, it was 13-5 and the Warriors were reserving hotel rooms for Albuquerque.
Gateway head coach Daniel Smith spoke on his teams’ impressive win: “The main component to that was our defense, we did that early. We controlled the boards and limited their offensive opportunities,” said Smith.
And if the first quarter wasn’t evidence of that, the second period was proof that Gateway’s defense took the bite out of the Tigers.
When Elida attempted to race shots inside, Stephens was there to knock them away. He had four blocked shots, but his mere presence in the middle forced Elida into reversing the ball.
If you didn’t think things could get worse for Elida, it did in the third quarter. With Gateway leading 30-20, the Warriors went on an 11-0 run aided by the fact that Elida missed its next 13 of 14 shots, and whatever hopes they had of a comeback were dashed in that third period.
The most exciting part of this game was the updates from a Gateway student giving on the Goddard-Portales game from Max Preps to his friends. He also was updating the Dexter-Navajo Prep game.
Both the Goddard and Dexter boys won their first-round games on Saturday, and the Goddard girls won their first-round game on Friday.
Now Gateway will join that trio, to play in their respective 1A bracket when they take on Quemado, the No. 1 seed. The two have played this season. “We met them in the Mescalero Tournament and we lost to them by one,” said Smith.
Quemado held on to win that game, 55-54, way back on Jan. 15. Smith pointed out that unlike other top teams in 1A, Quemado played a tough non-conference schedule.
“They are the number one team in the state for a reason — we have our work cut out. But we like our chances against them.”
That quarter-final game is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. Wednesday at Bernalillo High School.
If Gateway wins they will play Thursday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, win there, and it’s onto the title game at The Pit.
Atrisco Heritage 67, Roswell 49
Dexter 59, Navajo Prep 54