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Coyotes take a ‘Holiday’ and lose to Onate

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Roswell Sports and the Coyotes’ fans kept waiting for someone to say, “Gotcha.” This really isn’t happening. The Coyotes stayed in a Holiday Inn last night. But no one alerted us to that fact. Roswell did play Onate tough for the first minute of the game taking a 6-0 lead, then the wheels came off as the Knights hit the surge power to win, 58-43, Thursday night at the Coyote Den.

“He (Jordy Moreno) had a great game,” Onate coach Michael Nanez said. “Roswell is a very good team, they’re scrappy and coached well. I saw some film on them and they played hard. Roswell got in front at the beginning of the game and then we came back.”

This game wasn’t so much about Roswell losing, it was the way they lost and played. The game started with no life, no introductions to get the crowd going. Granted it’s the holidays and people are on break, but no one seemed excited to have a chance to knock off a top-ranked team at home.

This is only one game, but if it’s not handled right, it could be the defining moment to the Coyotes’ season. RDR Sports wasn’t there against Cleveland when Roswell lost, 90-41. That loss might have been OK as well, if they played hard and competed.

Thursday night, Roswell coach Moses “Dude” Burrola switched from a press to a packed-in zone. That’s fine, but for the rest of the game, the Coyotes played timidly. It seemed like they were afraid of making a bad play, taking a bad shot, or being taken out if any of those other things occurred.

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What transpired in the game against the Knights should never happen again. Roswell is a physical team with ballers on it who are not afraid to be physical. They have championship pedigree with Dominic Nava, Jasia Reese, Alonzo Acosta, Talon Sanders, Freddie Anaya and Joel Renteria.

RDR Sports saw repeatedly Taymon Burrola go to the basket and drop his shoulder into a player. The rest of the team followed suit in the second half and they played hard, but it was too late. It could have been one of those games, or it could be the symptoms of things to come. This season could go sideways in a hurry if the Coyotes don’t get it together quickly.

Playing the kind of basketball Roswell plays, with the press, teams are going to break the press and score. Coyote players had open threes and passed it up, afraid to miss and what’s worse, take the open shot. Coach Burrola wants his team to take it to the basket, and they did that. Roswell either missed or fouls were not called. Once Roswell did get to the free-throw line, they could not convert.

The kind of team that fans are used to seeing is playing wide-open basketball. The go to the basket and either try and finish or kick it out to a player for a wide-open three. Roswell is an aggressive, attacking, physical team, and Thursday night they weren’t. Granted, Onate was the better team, but no one knows how much better because the real Roswell basketball team played like they were in a funk.

If Roswell is going to play timid and maybe be intimidated by the name on the front of the jersey, it’s going to be a long season for them. There was a time when Roswell lived for such challenges to play the best, home or away. This could be one of those games for the Coyotes and if it is, this is a good game to get out of their system.

The long and the short of it is, between Friday and Saturday — Roswell needs to find out what kind of team they will be this year. Saturday’s game against No. 3 Las Cruces Tigers doesn’t matter. Las Cruces is a team that beat these same Onate Knights, 56-41, on Dec. 28.

If Roswell comes out focused and ready to play — and play like they are capable, then Thursday night’s game is a blip on the radar. Don’t be shocked if Roswell beats Las Cruces — they are capable. “Dude” talked about his team needing a statement game between these two games of Onate and Las Cruces — he’s in the perfect position to have his Coyotes bounce back.

Roswell is a team with 20-win capability, they have the talent and athletes to play with anyone on their schedule. Any team can have an off night, but the schedule does not get any easier for them. In the next few games, No. 8 Carlsbad and No. 10 Clovis will face Roswell — twice.

After that, Roswell will play No. 13 Hobbs. Roswell is sitting in good shape at the No.12 ranking in the state. Unless the brakes fail, there is no danger of Roswell not getting into the playoffs. The only importance these games have are for seeding in the playoffs.

Dominic Nava scored 12 points to lead the Coyotes in scoring, and Taymon Burrola added nine points and was in foul trouble most of the game. Roswell was susceptible to back door cuts repeatedly. On the defensive end of the floor, the Coyotes had trouble stopping the offside rebounder.

Roswell scored only six points in the second quarter going four-and-a-half minutes before scoring — by that time, the score was 32-14 with 2:03 to play in the half. They also had no answer for 6-foot-5 senior Jordy Moreno, 6-foot-7 Anjel Oliver, along with Donovan Black and Raphael Kelley who are both 6-foot-4, which is why Burrola probably went to the zone. It is highly unlikely that Roswell will face another team with that kind of height until the playoffs.

Roswell (10-4) plays Las Cruces at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Coyote Den.

Goddard falls short in comeback vs Cathedral

By Tom A. Ruiz
Special to RDR Sports

Goddard’s Jeremy Hicks (3) is fouled by a Roswell defender while driving to the basket last month at Ground Zero. (Steve Notz File Photo)

RUIDOSO — The Goddard Rockets expended much of their energy to overcome a 17-point deficit in the first half but just didn’t have enough fuel left in the fourth quarter to overcome the El Paso Cathedral Fighting Irish, 49-40, Thursday afternoon at the Ruidoso Mountain Madness Shootout at the Ruidoso Gym.

The Rockets, 3-10, had a horrible first quarter scoring only five points. They shot as cold as the 28-degree temperature outside the gym. The Irish weren’t exactly shooting lights out either. Going into the second period, the Irish led 13-5, and with Goddard still struggling, they took advantage, scoring nine points to begin the quarter and a 22-5 lead. “We didn’t play very well in that first quarter at all,” said Rockets coach Anthony Mestas. But the Rockets began to work their way back.

Led by Brandon Montanez, the Rockets went from 17 down to trail by only 10 at the half. Montanez became the floor general. He distributed the ball around for the open shot and time after time found Noah Reese.

Goddard began to find its rhythm in the third period with Reese who was unstoppable. His six straight points got the Rockets within four, 25-21. It seemed that the luck of the Irish had run out on Cathedral when Montanez of Goddard drained a short jumper for a 26-25 lead and two other free throws by Montanez gave Goddard its biggest lead of the game, 28-25, which completed a 13-0 run.

However, Cathedral somehow managed to stem the tide and regained the lead, 32-29, entering the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter was not kind to Goddard — a series of miscues and cold shooting doomed them. Moreover, Goddard had lost its steam from having to come back in the first half. “That’s been our downfall so far this year,” said Mestas. “We get down 15, 20 points in the first half and then do a great job in the third quarter, but we just can’t finish in the fourth quarter.”

Cathedral, on the other hand, found its second wind. They outscored Goddard 11-5, midway through the fourth quarter and that was the game.

Mestas pointed out that if his team can get over its first half calamities, the Rockets will be a very competitive team. “We just got to get better though. I thought we showed some improvement against Roswell in the Poe Corn tournament, but we regressed tonight.”

Goddard will take on host Ruidoso tonight at 7 p.m.