Home Sports Local Sports Rockets’ brutal early-season schedule continues

Rockets’ brutal early-season schedule continues

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Goddard’s Erik Palma (45) tries to shoot over two Hobbs defenders during Tuesday night’s game at Ground Zero. (J.T. Keith Photo)

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There’s a right way and a wrong way to play winning basketball. As a District 4-5A contender for the Blue Trophy, trying to beat up on your 4-4A little brother should hardly be about bragging rights.

Goddard’s Rhett Price (32) goes high to block a shot from a Hobbs player as James Torrez (30) tries to help while Goddard guard Jared Hicks (0) watches. (J.T. Keith Photo)

Yet in this brief season, Hobbs came into the confines of Ground Zero and tried to hang 100 points on a Goddard team that is just trying to find their way this basketball season.

Goddard once again had trouble handling the press, which led to turnovers that in turn led to easy buckets. Those buckets turned a tight game into an 87-56 Hobbs win Tuesday night at Ground Zero.

“That’s just typical Hobbs,” Goddard coach Anthony Mestas said. “Bad attitude and bad sportsmanship. I wasn’t going to let them put up 100 points on us.”

The game was decided by the start of the fourth quarter as Hobbs led 64-43. They continued to press and attack, taking no prisoners. One Hobbs player drove the lane and slam-dunked on a player, making the crowd go silent.

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If it were not for Mestas having his team go into a stall offense, Hobbs could have scored 100.

“We play like we practice,” Hobbs coach Shelby Reeves said. “We knew that Goddard would come out and give us a good game. Our kids were excited to play them.”

A basketball game is a contest of runs and emotions, and this game took a lot out of the Rockets, mentally and physically. Mestas will have to be Houdini to get his team to perform at their optimal level when they face rival Roswell Thursday at the Coyote Den.

Mestas’ real work now begins. It’s not about the Roswell game, but the games that follow.

He’s going to have to get his team up and ready to travel to Ruidoso on Friday. He will then have to get back on a bus and travel to play 5A Carlsbad on Saturday.

“Our schedule is brutal,” Mestas said. “We have to play these 5A schools, and we just have to keep playing.”

They will get a break in competition once district play begins. Goddard will travel to Portales and open with the Rams. The good news is, their district opponents are in no way the level of competition they have faced to open the season.

It’s been stated by RDR sports, after the Roswell game, that the Rockets could be a better team — and play better than at any time during Mestas’ tenure — and still not have a winning record to show for that progress. There are no gimmes on the schedule this season. Not one, including Ruidoso.

Hobbs is freaky athletic. They can shoot the three. They also have strong interior play — and they press and press and press. Without seeing Carlsbad and Clovis play, it should come down to Roswell and Hobbs for the 5A title.

Every coach, no matter how great, all of them have taken a loss, and probably all of them have suffered a blowout when things just didn’t go their way for whatever reason. We all have had days where nothing has gone right and all one can hope for is a little compassion and mercy.

There were good things from the game. No matter what happens against Roswell or Carlsbad, Goddard has earned their basketball cred by playing such a tough schedule. It can only help them.

This team is scrappy, hustling, dives on the floor for loose balls, plays in-your-face, tough defense.

One of the main problems for Goddard is they don’t score consistently. They don’t get a lot of fast-break baskets.

This is a team with great potential that should be in the thick of things come district play. These tough games should only serve to make their resolve tougher.

Goddard has the grittiness of Jared Hicks, who needs to look for his shot more. He needs to be more offensive-minded and shoot his mid-range jumper and three-point shot more. That will make it easier for him to drive to the basket. He is able to draw fouls and get to the free-throw line.

Hicks’ game is all about hustle, desire and being physical. He had 15 points against Hobbs. In watching two games, it is apparent Hicks is going to be this year’s Brandon Montanez and put the team on his back, not just in scoring but in a leadership role.

Damian Aragon is fearless and plays hard. He did some good things against Hobbs. He needs to continue to bang the boards and look for his shot as well. He has no problem getting to the line. If Rhett Price develops a low post move, look out. He altered shots against Hobbs and wasn’t afraid to look for his own shot.

Point forward Erik Palma is a competitor. He hustles the entire time he’s on the court and isn’t afraid to take it to bigger opponents down low in the middle. He and others were diving on the floor for loose balls.

No matter what happens in the next three games, Goddard is going to be a load that no one is going to want to play come district time. What the team needs more than anything is a win. One win would send their confidence to a new level.

Once district play starts, look for this team to find ways to win.

Goddard is a team that has to win ugly this year — and it’s OK, because it’s not about style points or looking good, but about winning.

“I am happy with our team,” Mestas said. “They are playing hard and rebounding. Our kids are hustling and doing the little things that will help us win.”

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