For Goddard senior basketball player Bailey Beene, it was her turn to lead. After three years and a state championship, it was her turn to teach the tradition of Goddard basketball to the younger players in the program.
Beene would have to lead with a new group of seniors and younger players. The team would use the regular season and district season to gel and come together. The Lady Rockets continued to get better even through tough losses to finish the season with a winning record, 16-13.
“That team epitomized, it’s not how you start” Goddard coach Jared Neighbors said, “but how you finish.”
The sensational group of seniors consisting of PJ Villareal, Alyssa Hernandez, Deja Ramirez, Alma Salinas, Cielo Salinas and Callie Burrow, who would be the team’s unsung hero. Burrow would do the dirty work by setting picks, diving on the floor for loose balls, taking charges, and getting the big rebounds when the team needed it.
What Beene and Neighbors taught a young team that never played together before was enough. Enough with the help of defender Tonya Ueland and the smooth-shooting scoring of freshman Alexis Sandoval. Sandoval would score just enough from the inside and outside to keep defenders from double-teaming Beene.
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Beene was in a world of her own. She would often grab a rebound and dribble the ball behind her back, or between her legs. If the defense stopped her, she would kick it out to the wing to one of her teammates for an open three-pointer.
If an opponent didn’t stop her, she would drive coast to coast for a layup. Through all of the games and adversity the Lady Rockets faced last season, it was good enough to get to the Pit and advance to the Elite Eight game, but they came up just a little short as Beene put on a show, scoring 36 points in a 72-60 loss to the Gallup Bengals.
“It was also a great finish to Bailey’s career,” Neighbors said. “As well as give the returning players a taste of what they want every year. The Pit is a special place to play and Bailey left her mark and inspired the future players and the program where we want to be every year.”
RDR Sports recognizes the effort the Lady Rockets gave their fans, school, as the No. 4 sports moment of the year.
For fans of Beene, there is a chance she will appear again in the countdown.
Goddard girls play with heart of a champion
From the Mar. 13 edition of the Roswell Daily Record
Goddard senior Bailey Beene came out at intermission and looked her teammates in the eye and said, “It’s our time.”
In the fourth quarter, it nearly was. It was the third quarter that became the Lady Rockets’ undoing. Goddard came out after intermission and meant business, but could not score for 2:57 after half, while Gallup went on an 8-0 run, as the Bengals pulled away to win 72-60 in the Elite Eight and advance to the semifinals on Thursday.
Goddard played well, but had trouble hitting open shots and finding any scoring other than Beene, who played the whole game and did not come out. Beene marveled the fans with her shot-blocking ability and her drives from coast to coast to score as she ended up with a game-high 36 points.
One of the main differences in the game was after halftime, when Bengals’ coach Todd McBroom switched to another defense and Goddard turned the ball over on four consecutive times. They had the ball, as Bengals’ Hanna Toledo hit a three-pointer at the 7:18 mark.
Goddard then threw the ball away and Ashley Antone scored on a driving layup to tie them with a 33-25 lead with 6:37 to play in the third quarter. Goddard had the ball stolen and on the other end, Ashley Antone hit a three with 6:16 to play, forcing Goddard coach Jared Neighbors to call a timeout.
“I think one of the main differences is they hit the three-point shot,” Neighbors said. “That was big. I think we controlled our turnovers a little better in the second half. First half we hurt ourselves with the missed free throws and turnovers. We knew we should have been up at half — second half, their shots going in and I was proud of us scoring 60 and we lost. I’d be surprised the way we played defense all year.”
It seemed the game was over with as Gallup built the lead up to 50-38, when Goddard and her teammates made their run in the fourth quarter. Freshman Alexis Sandoval drove the length of their court and was fouled. She was injured and could not shoot her free throws.
Neighbors selected senior Cielo Salinas to shoot them. She made both of them to make the score 50-40 with 7:51 to play in the game. Gallup’s Cearra Williams hit a jumper as they went back up, 52-40.
Goddard’s Salinas hit an open three from the left to make the score 52-44.
Gallup traveled the next time they had a ball. Beene drove the length of the court and pulled up at the three-point line and hit nothing but net as Goddard closed the score to 52-47. The teams faded baskets and then Gallup went cold from the floor and Goddard turned up the defense as they chipped away at the lead until Beene was fouled on a three-point shot.
Beene missed the shot but calmly hit three free throws as she brought her team to within six points, 66-60 with 1:20 left to play.
Sandoval fouled out and with Goddard being forced to foul, Goddard coach Neighbors emptied his bench. Goddard had trouble stopping the three-point shot and the Bengals had five players that could step out and run the floor, and pull up and hit the three-ball.
Gallup got just enough inside play to warrant attention as they kicked the ball out to open shooters.
“Gallup keyed on her (Beene) all game,” Neighbors said. You saw the leadership she has shown, with Beene scoring 36 points, her highest scoring since she has been in high school. It’s testament to her and she’s going out on a high note and we have big shoes to fill with her going out. Bailey’s (Beene) unselfishness is the key to our success. You see there is only a minute and a half in the game and she is going hard. There are no words to describe Bailey (Beene), she is going to be missed.”
All season Goddard’s defense has been pristine, and yet they have had trouble scoring points. Five times prior to this game, Goddard has scored 60 points and won. Against Seminole, they scored 65 points; against Crownpoint, they scored 68 points. When they played Burges, Goddard scored 68 points; against Lovington, 60 points; and Artesia, 61 points. This is the only game in which they scored over 60 points and lost.
For Beene, this game was bittersweet as she won a championship on this court as a sophomore. Beene is the only player remaining from the championship team two years ago. Today she scored a career-high 36 points and was 11 of 20 from the field, 5 of 9 from three-point land and she grabbed nine rebounds and dished out two assists.
“Yeah, I think,” Beene said. “We never give up and we played it out all the way. They (Gallup) shot the ball really well and we had a lot of turnovers — there were things we could have fixed.”
Neighbors lauded his players that they played Goddard basketball with hustle and heart. He also noted that his team struggled shooting all year and that the Rockets scored 60 points is a testament to the team and how they raised their game.
“Being a part of this program,” Beene said, “has been a big part of my life and it’s really changed it a lot. This program has made me feel special to be a part of something so special. I’m really glad I made these relationships with all these girls, cause they’re amazing.”
Goddard scoring: Bailey Beene, 36 points; Alexis Sandoval, 7 points; Cielo Salinas, 6 points; Kelsey Morley, 5 points; Lacie Schooley and Abbie Garcia, 3 points each.
Gallup: 12, 16, 22, 22-72
Goddard: 13, 12,13, 22-60