This game wasn’t about winning or losing, it was about the culture of Roswell basketball. It was about how the Coyotes were going to play their five games before district. This game was about coming back after a loss and competing at a championship level they have set.
The team that took the floor against Las Cruces Bulldawgs was the one fans are used to seeing. Roswell mixed a zone defense to try and stop the Bulldawgs’ height. Roswell came out with intensity and played hard and that fierceness was enough to keep them in the game before losing, 64-39, in the Coyote Den Saturday.
“They’re good,” Roswell coach Moses “Dude” Burrola said. “They’re (Las Cruces) the best team in the state. They are better than any team we’ve played in the state. What else can you say? I thought we played hard on Thursday night, too. Whether you try to run or you try to slow it down, it is not going to matter. When you play those two good teams, you have to have some kind of strategy and put your team in the best possible way to win.”
Roswell had bodies flying around, players hitting the floor for loose balls, and others stepping in to take charges. Roswell players on offense went straight at Las Cruces’ 6-foot-9 Isaiah Carr, who sent several shots back, but it didn’t stop the Coyotes from being aggressive. When Roswell was open, they would take the three-point shot.
This game was much more competitive than when Roswell played Onate Thursday night. Roswell made several stops and took a 13-11 lead on a jumper from the corner by Noel Chacon at 7:10 in the second quarter.
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Las Cruces went on an 11-0 run in the next two minutes and that was the game. Roswell trailed at the half, 37-23. Roswell played hard, but could not match the height difference, or stop the outside shooting of guard William Benjamin. Benjamin would score 14 points in the quarter and hit four three-pointers.
“I thought Roswell got a little tired,” Las Cruces’ coach William Benjamin said. “They pressed the whole game. I thought we did a good job of executing against the press, and not turning the ball over. In the first three quarters and early in the fourth quarter, kids got a little lackadaisical with their passes, but overall, Roswell is a good team. The pace Roswell tries to establish is tough to handle.”
This season, the Coyotes have played a very tough non-conference schedule. At the time Roswell played these opponents, here is where they were ranked: No. 1 Cleveland, on Thursday No. 6 Onate, and Saturday, the No. 2 team in the state, Las Cruces. The only team the Coyotes have not faced is the currently ranked No. 1 team in the state, Volcano Vista.
The rankings were updated Friday night on MaxPreps with Volcano Vista at No. 1, Las Cruces at No. 2, Cleveland is No. 3, with Capital No. 4 and Onate No 5. No. 6 is Eldorado, with Santa Fe at No. 7. Roswell will play No. 8 Clovis and No. 10 Carlsbad this season with No. 13 Hobbs to be seen at a later date this season. Roswell has played a tough schedule and that’s not including No. 15 Alamogordo and Gadsden, ranked No. 16, or No. 14 Rio Rancho. Early in the season, Centennial was ranked high as well.
Roswell (10-5) has played a treacherous schedule that would test a college team. For them to be ranked No. 12 and taken every team’s best shot, has to give them confidence for the rest of the season and for district play.
It is clear, for the first time in a long time, because of reclassification — Roswell might play their very best and still not win a championship in 5A. It seems like in 5A, Roswell cannot have a bad game, or make a lot of mistakes with any of the top teams.
No matter how fast and how much the Coyotes run, they cannot overcome height. Roswell used to have height in Logan Eaker, but in 5A, every team in the top five teams has at least two to three Eakers.
“Las Cruces is just better than us,” “Dude” said. “It is what it is. I will never second guess what I say, or what I do, and how I get my guys ready to play. We’re one of the top teams in the state, regardless of where we’re at. We have no business in 5A and our numbers show that. We’re going to compete, we’re not going to be satisfied playing teams that don’t matter. We are going to try to play the best — if they beat us, they beat us.”
Roswell will return to the hardwood at 7 p.m. Friday, when they travel to Santa Teresa.
Goddard gets revenge on Silver
By Tom A. Ruiz
Special to RDR Sports
RUIDOSO — The Goddard Rockets gained a new wave of confidence after winning two of three games at the Ruidoso Mountain Madness Round Robin Shootout. The Rockets dropped their first-round game but came back to win their last two games, including Saturday’s finale, 71-46, over the Silver Colts to extract some revenge for last season’s quarterfinal loss to Silver in the 4A playoffs.
Rockets’ coach Anthony Mestas touched on the fact on Friday that this year’s Silver team was much different from the one last year. So much so that none of the players on this year’s Silver varsity team were even on last year’s team, Silver’s coach Caleb Reynolds confirmed.
But ask the Rockets if they care. “We just wanted a win,” said Mestas. “Now we got us a little momentum. We play Sundown at home on Tuesday, hopefully, we’ll get that one and the following week we play Roswell again.”
So the Rockets now are 5-10 and played the hand they were dealt on Saturday and came up aces against the 1-11 Colts. The Rockets dominated this game from the opening tipoff. They raced out to an 11-0 lead in the first quarter. Brandon Montanez hit two three-bombs and wound up with 16 points. Also in that first quarter, Gabriel Campos drilled a triple of his own and within the first three minutes of the quarter, the Colts were reeling. Campos finished with 13 points.
Performing at a confidence level they had not played with all season, the Rockets were crisp during warmups prior to tipoff. In a span of 30 layup drills, they just missed two. On their followups, the Rockets could not miss — their passes were sharp, and during their warmup shooting, Goddard looked flawless. One began to wonder whether they were seeing the Harlem Globetrotters warm up. Now usually all the pregame stuff doesn’t amount to anything, but in this case, it did.
However, this Goddard team is young and still learning. They did fall into a lull in the second period, missing on eight consecutive shots that allowed Silver to creep within 11 points at the half, 34-25.
“We’re still playing with some inexperience. But in this tournament (Ruidoso), we played teams that are about equal to us. We’re not playing the likes of Clovis, Centennial, Santa Fe High — those are some powerhouse teams,” said Mestas.
The young Rockets took their licks against those programs earlier in the season, losing to all three by an average of 20 points. In their three meetings against Roswell, they lost to them by 32 and lost by 16 at the Poe Corn tournament. Both teams will play each other again on Jan. 14 at Roswell High.
“You only get better by playing the better teams,” Mestas pointed out.
However, in this tournament, the Rockets improved in all areas in preparation for the games that will count the most and that’s in district play against the likes of Portales, Artesia and Lovington.
Goddard will be looking for its third consecutive win on Tuesday when they host the Roughnecks of Sundown, Texas, 5:30 p.m. at Ground Zero.