Home Sports Local Sports Goddard trio make all-district team

Goddard trio make all-district team

Sophomore Ambrosia Teasyatwho (14) made all-district. She puts up a shot against Andrews, Texas earlier this season at home.

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Sniff. Sniff. Sniff. Other basketball coaches in District 4-4A are starting to smell what Goddard girls basketball coach Jared Neighbors is cooking with his basketball team. How about three all-district players and an honorable mention player, who are not juniors yet.

In a season where Neighbors didn’t know what to expect, he knew he had a building block with sophomore Alexis Sandoval returning. She started as a freshman and scored seven points against the Gallup Bengals in the state playoffs as a freshman.

He also had the defensive presence of Tanya Ueland, Alexis Hoover, both Lana and Kelsey Morley to work with. He brought post player Aliyah Valdez up to block shots and grab rebounds.

But other than that it was going to be a season of ifs for the Lady Rockets: If the team continues to improve as the season goes along, if they stay healthy, if they can get in shape by district time, if they don’t wear themselves out playing a style of play that Neighbors has always wanted to play, but couldn’t until now.

Neighbors, who should be considered for District 4-4A Coach of the Year, made all of the right moves and ended up going .500 in district play. The eclectic mix of youth and seniors proved to have the right chemistry as they helped Neighbors to his best record since he has been at Goddard, 22-8.

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To do that, Neighbors turned the ball and team over to Sandoval. She made all-district. Sandoval is the heart and soul of the team. She is a hard-nose with no back down in her. Against Highland, she went toe-to-toe with Highland’s 6-foot-1 Callie Crawford.

Both players stood their ground and had something to say to each other. Sandoval was outweighed by 30 pounds and gave up six inches. What Sandoval didn’t give up was her will to win. She kept taking the ball to Highland.

With another year under her belt, Goddard fans can expect big things from Sandoval going forward.

“Sandoval was our floor general,” Neighbors said. “She’s only a sophomore, she is experienced and a leader.”

Joining Sandoval on the All-District team is another sophomore, Ambrosia Teasyatwho. She is an athlete that is gifted — she can run all day and seems to make all of the hustle plays and does some of this and some of that. She does everything well, and seems to always be around the ball.

She is not afraid to mix it up with bigger girls and take it to them. Teasyatwho offered many a put-back against Highland. Whether her shot was blocked or not she continued to attack, dive on the floor for loose balls or go straight back up for offensive rebounds.

Teasyatwho’s attitude is infectious to the team, and they feed off her spirit whether she starts or comes off the bench. This season she just seemed to give the Lady Rockets that spark when they needed a big play.

“Teasyatwho was our Swiss Army knife,” Neighbors said. “She did whatever needed to be done and she was a stat-filler. Every stat we kept, she produced.”

Joining Sandoval and Teasyatwho on the all-district team is freshman Ericca Cannon. Cannon gave Goddard explosiveness on offense. She had the ability to grab a rebound and go the distance.

Cannon could stop on a dime and pull up and hit her jumper. Cannon was a sneaky defender, often coming from the blindside to steal the ball. She mastered swiping the ball away from her opponent as they were ready to turn the corner.

Cannon would tip the ball away and go the length of the floor and score. In Goddard’s press, Cannon excelled in her ability to play the passing lanes. Often she would intercept the ball and pass it to a teammate for a fast break opportunity.

“Cannon was a sponge,” Neighbors said. “She progressed so far this year. She is going to be something special if she continues to improve and apply.”

Freshman Daci Smith was honorable mention all-district. Smith might have come the furthest of anyone on the team this year. Smith is a heady player who sees the floor and game moves in advance.

Smith is always in the right place at the right time. She is a legit three-point shooter on the team. Smith got hot and scored 13 points in a quarter in one game this season.

She has the habit of floating out behind the three-point line and waits for one of her teammates to kick the ball to her for an easy shot. Smith seemed to get comfortable taking the big shot at the big moments as the season went on. Smith started to put the ball on the floor toward the end of the season and look to score from 10 feet in the lane. She is perfecting a push shot that is hard to defend.

“Smith loves and understands the game,” Neighbors said, “as well as anybody. Once her confidence matches her knowledge — watch out.”

Neighbors knows that this is not a bad threesome to build around for the next two years. Throw in defensive ace Tanya Ueland, Alexis Hoover, Alyssa Linares, and Sarah and Emily Mathison as returners and it is a very intriguing proposition for the rest of 4A.

There is no telling what player(s) Neighbors has coming up from the junior varsity that have dedicated themselves to getting better and waiting for basketball camp to start.

Look for Goddard to be ranked in the top six when basketball season starts. This group along with seniors Aliyah Valdez, Lana and Kelsey Morley with the other players mentioned in this article finished the season ranked No. 8 by MaxPreps this season. When the season began, MaxPreps did not have them ranked in the top 10.

The only thing stopping Goddard from making a return trip to the playoffs next season: injury, complacency or jealousy. If they stay innocent, in the way that basketball is all about the team, and they want to have fun and contribute, then Neighbors has a chance to add some blue hardware to his trophy case.

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


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