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Out of sync, out of district playoffs

Goddard’s Jared Hicks (0) drives in for two of his 10 points Thursday against Lovington at Ground Zero. (Steve Notz Photo)

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It was all there for the taking. This was as close to a must-win game for Goddard as, must-win. The Rockets were playing at home against a Lovington team they had beaten twice in the regular season: 75-65 on Feb. 7 and 70-55 on Feb. 18. All the stars were aligned, Goddard was playing their last home game and it looked like a layup. This game was anything but a layup, as they were stunned by Lovington, 56-45 at Ground Zero Thursday night.

“The boys did play hard,” Goddard coach Anthony Mestas said. “We did the best we could with what we have. We have overachieved all year long. I’m very proud of these young men for representing their school with pride.”

That’s why they play the games. Goddard suffered a big loss when they lost their captain and the heart and soul of the team — the Rockets’ leading scorer, Brandon Montanez. He scored four points and was injured with less than a minute to go in the first quarter. Montanez would not return. Questions remain about Montanez’s availability next week when state rankings come out if they make it in the tournament.

Goddard needed this win coming into this game as they were ranked No. 16 in District 4-4A, one spot behind the Wildcats. Even though Goddard was stunned, there were many players that showed up and kept the Rockets in the game.

Junior Jared Hicks made his presence felt as he did it all. He blocked shots, dove on the floor for loose balls, and even went the length of the floor and did a twirl move to score and draw a foul. Hicks almost willed the Rockets to a win as he led the team in scoring with 10 points.

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Goddard could not stop the three-point shot, nor could they keep the Wildcats off the boards as they would take a 16-10 lead in the first quarter. Two players that have been brought up from junior varsity and kept the Rockets in the game were Elijah Quiroz, as he added nine points, and Jose Ramirez as he scored two points in the second quarter. Goddard could only score six points and would trail 23-16 at the half.

Ramirez put in seven points in the third quarter and Hicks added four points as Goddard took a 33-31 lead with 1:11 in the third quarter. Goddard gave up a three-pointer with 43.0 seconds left in the third quarter as they retook the lead, 34-33. Goddard was held scoreless the rest of the quarter and Lovington added another six points in 43.0 seconds to take a 40-33 lead going into the fourth.

“Our kids played hard,” said Casey Pack, Lovington’s head basketball coach. “Montanez, I don’t know what he did, or something. But that helped us tremendously because that guy is a player. Not to take anything away from our kids, because our kids played hard.”

Goddard (11-16) continued to play hard, but could never get closer than four points and that was when Taylor Ramage hit a three-point shot to make the score 45-41 with 4:15 to play in the game. Goddard went 1:45 without scoring and could not stop the second and third attempts on the glass as Lovington won, 56-45.

“Our boys gave it their all,” Mestas said. “That’s all we can ask of them. We made a run in the second half. I was happy that all of our seniors got to play tonight and play on this floor one last time here at Goddard. I’m very happy with the girls winning.”

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.

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