It might have been the three questionable calls, especially in the last three minutes of the game, that sent the Goddard Rockets home — but as much as they want to blame the referees, they have to look in the mirror. Goddard missed a lot of shots from point-blank range. Point-blank range, 5-foot and shorter — some of them were uncontested, others were. But Goddard missed a lot of shots and free throws when they counted.
Goddard’s defense was the reason they were able to claw their way back into the game. Goddard was trailing 14-6 and then they went on a run to close, coming within five points and trailing,16-11. Goddard keyed the ball up and forced eight turnovers in the second quarter and held Silver to three points to retake the lead, 20-19 at half.
“The two things we talked about at halftime — “ Silver coach Brandon Siqueiros said, “we had nine turnovers and we had given up five offensive rebounds. We talked about boxing out and taking care of the basketball. The one thing we said is that jump shots and free throws don’t travel but defense does. I told them, ‘Let’s get stops and let our stops turn into shots.’”
It was not enough with missed shots, free throws and Silver being able to grab key rebounds on the offensive floor. Silver also received second chance opportunities when Goddard had a chance to tie the game or take the lead. That more than anything played a role in Goddard coming up short, 54-50 at Dreamstyle Arena (The Pit) on Wednesday morning.
“I think those calls hurt us,” Jonah Chavez said, “but us driving and us not making our bunnies or easy shots hurt us in the end.”
In the third quarter, the game went back and forth. Silver’s Tristin Moore, who the Rockets had no answer for, was a tormentor to the Rockets on the inside with the ball or on the outside as he torched Goddard for 27 points. He also kept the ball alive and found his teammates for open shots. Moore went 10-of-11 from the free throw line as he was fouled at the end of the game.
Moore hit two free throws to make the score 28-26 with 1:06 to play in the third quarter. Goddard fouled Moore again, which put The Fighting Colts into the bonus with 56.6 left in the third quarter. Moore made both free throws to make the score 30-26.
Goddard wasn’t done as Xavier Garcia hit one of his two three-pointers just as time expired in the quarter with Goddard trailing, 30-29.
Goddard’s Garcia hit his second three-pointer to bring the Rockets within one point, 35-34 with 4:58. Mestas took one of his timeouts to give his team a chance to rest. Out of the timeout, Goddard held Silver and didn’t allow them to get the ball in for a five-second count. Jon Carrillo shot a runner in the lane and the ball rolled around the rim, went down and came back out. Silver increased their lead, 39-35 with 3:44 in the game.
Chavez hit a three-pointer with 1:45 left as Goddard trailed, 43-38. Moore of Silver answered with a three-pointer of his own with 1:21 left. Carrillo hit a three-pointer for Goddard as they trailed, 46-41 with 1:14 to play. Chavez dove for a loose ball and appeared to tie up the Silver player, which would have given Goddard the ball. Chavez was called for a personal foul as Silver’s Matt Overstreet made both free throws as they led, 48-41 with 1:04 to play.
With time running out, Brandon Montanez of Goddard drove the lane and was fouled. He hit three free throws with no time taken off the clock, as Goddard drew to 48-44 with 38 seconds left to play. The play of the game was when Goddard’s Montanez was called for a charge when they had a chance to get within one point with 20.4 seconds left to play.
“I don’t even think Albert Einstein knows what a charge is anymore,” Siqueiros said. “I’m confused, it’s an easy fix. Put the restrictive area in high school basketball, we’ve had that call go against us this year. You have to let the guy come down. I think he made the right call and you have to allow someone to come down. It’s a dangerous play — protect the player’s legs and knees.”
Goddard coach Anthony Mestas felt like there were three missed calls at the end of the game.
“I felt like there was a charge not called,” Mestas said, “there was an out-of-bounds call not called and one foul that was missed. We should have gotten those calls, and it was the same referee on those calls.”
Silver made a couple of free throws — Montanez hit a three-pointer with 10.8 seconds as they trailed 49-45. Carrillo drove the length of the lane and scored for Goddard with 00.5 seconds left with Silver leading 53-50. Silver added a free throw with no time on the clock.
“I still thought we had a shot,” Carrillo said. “I feel like one of our shooters would have hit a shot and forced it into overtime.”
Mestas was counting on putting their press on, getting a steal and having a shot. He was trying to extend the game. Mestas feels happy that his players will be able to have these memories to tell their families about playing in The Pit.
“I’m just proud of my guys,” Mestas said. “I’m just super proud of them, heck, going from winning one district game last year to going 8-0 in district, to beating Portales four times this year, to beating Artesia three times, getting to the state tournament and playing at The Pit. I’m just proud of these guys.”
They said it
Goddard senior Derek Carrica feels like the biggest difference between this year and last year is the team. “Last year,” Carrica said, “we didn’t play as a team, and we didn’t have team leaders. This year, if we had an argument, we always resolve it and come back together as a team.”
Senior Josh Dominguez said, “It meant everything to be with these guys.”
Senior Jonah Chavez said, “I will remember this team for the rest of my life. It’s a great experience and it teaches us not only in sports but in life, as well, to always work hard and to push that on in our life. It’s just a great experience to have my brothers with me and be as a family and have this chemistry that we have.”
Jon Carrillo said, “We want them to come to The Pit every year. We want the younger players to come to The Pit and show us how to win a championship.”
Coach Mestas believes this year’s team has laid the foundation for future teams to come.
“We have to take little steps from where we are at,” Mestas said. “These kids have given me everything from summertime to offseason to in-season, to weekends, to holidays. Basketball is a grind — it’s a long season.”
Goddard, (19-10), was led in scoring by Jon Carrillo with 15 points, Derek Carrica had 10 points, Brandon Montanez added nine points, and Xavier Garcia had six points. Also, Jonah Chavez and Noah Reese each had four points apiece and Hunter Beene put in two points.