Home Sports Local Sports Goddard looks to improve perfect season

Goddard looks to improve perfect season

The Goddard defense makes a play on a Hobbs shot during a game earlier this month at Ground Zero. (Daily Record File Photo)

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For the Goddard seniors, the uncertainty of not knowing whether they can play for a state title doesn’t matter. What they are doing is going all out to win every game.

They have a refuse-to-lose mentality. It does not matter if they have fans or not. When they step on the court, they are all business and focused on winning.

So it was no surprise they had to dig down deep to win in four sets over Portales’ team that pushed the Lady Rockets 25-23, 25-23, 23-25 and 25-19, to win their first district win at Ground Zero Tuesday night.

“My athletes know what I want,” Goddard coach Dewayne Roberts said. “My athletes know what I want, and they have been clicking since day one.”

Roberts has his team laser-focused on district play, in case there is a state tournament. The New Mexico Activities Association has not said whether there will be a state playoff or not.

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Roberts is trying to put his team in the best possible position in case there is a playoff — he would like the Lady Rockets to be the No. 1 seed in District 4A. If Goddard is a top four seed, they would get to host the opening round of the playoffs. If they were to win the opening round game, they could host a second round playoff game, before the quarterfinals and semifinals.

Roberts said district is where his team’s focus has been. He is coaching the season in sprint mode and not in marathon, because they have only 10 games to their season.

The key moment of the game was in game two, when Portales came back from an 18-23 deficit to tie the game. Senior Laci Schooley showed why she has been all-state three years in a row. Schooley ran down balls, made the key dives on the floor and set her teammates up in the right moment to win game two and turn the momentum back to the Lady Rockets.

“It was a great effort on her part,” Roberts said. “That is the kind of leadership we need. You are already starting to see it rub off on the younger kids. I thought she played a really good game tonight.”

Roberts said that one of the telling moments during the four games was the serving of Alissa Benavides, who played a lot as a freshman, and is starting to scratch the surface of how good she can be. Benavides served several key points as she helped Goddard turn back the tide from an assault by the Rams.

Goddard (5-0, 1-0 district) looks to go a game up in district play, if they can defeat Artesia on Thursday. With seven seniors back from a team that made it to the semifinals last season, in the short season, continuity has been an asset for the Lady Rockets.

“We’re not taking anybody for granted in district,” Roberts said. “On any given night, I think it is going to be a battle. We’re approaching every single game like we are getting ready for the state championship game. Tonight’s win was a huge momentum win for us.”

Goddard had a chance to close out Portales in straight sets but could not overcome a Rams rally. Portales was down 19-18 and fought back to tie the game at 22-22. Portales made a serve and had a block at the net to win the set, 23-25.

“We could have closed them out,” Roberts said. “Part of me wishes we did, but part of me knows that we need to go through phases like this. I don’t want to drop a set at any time, but I do see how my kids are going to react when they are being pushed a little bit.”

Roberts said they have an analogy, that this is like a boxing match, and when they get hit, he wants his girls to hit back. Portales won a set, and Roberts said they reacted the way he thought they would in the fourth set of the match with a dominant performance.

“I have been preaching that you never stop on a play,” Roberts said. “It is who I want us to be because you never know what can happen on a play. I want us to be a hustling team, playing out every point with no quit and we are going to fight to the bitter end until we can’t fight no more. I was happy with that tonight.”

Goddard will host Artesia, today at Ground Zero at 6:30 p.m.

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

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