Published: 12:01 am, Sun. Feb. 7th, 2016Updated: 12:07 am
For one half Friday at Ground Zero in Roswell, the Runnin’ ‘Dog basketball team was in control.
Battling the Rockets through a largely defensive first quarter, the boys in orange came on strong in the second, and to their great credit, it wasn’t easy. The Goddard faithful were displeased, their vocal expressions ricocheting off the cinderblock walls, the officials were decidedly touchy, and the overall atmosphere had a powder keg feel.
The ‘Dogs kept their heads en route to a 24-17 halftime lead. But the third quarter would prove to be the spark that blew the game into something closer resembling chaos, and the end result was a frustrating 59-44 loss.
With both teams jockeying for position through the duration of the opening eight minutes Friday in the Round One finale of regular-season District 4-AAAAA play, the scoring came at a premium.
Neither team would get on the board through the first two minutes of play, but a shot off the glass by Goddard’s LeAnthoney Harrison broke the ice at the six-minute mark. From there, however, the Bulldogs went on a tear. Carlos Caldera got the ball rolling with a hard drive to the hoop, and a breakaway layup off the steal by Ethan Duff was followed by a Justin Houghtaling offensive putback and a bucket in the paint from Taylor Null to quickly make it 8-2 in favor of Artesia.
Consecutive turnovers broke up the ‘Dogs’ momentum, however, handing the Rockets a pair of freebies, which Dalin Stanford converted, and making it a one-point contest going into the second, 8-7.
A pair of free throws by Houghtaling, a turnover-earned layup by Caldera, and a running floater by Duff in the lane saw the Bulldogs double up on the Rockets, 14-7, but two Stanford buckets and a Blake Maxey trey sandwiched a Caleb Brewer jumper and helped Goddard stay within two, 16-14, at the midway point.
Joe Willingham put back an offensive board, Carlos Carrasco posted a layup and both ends of a one-and-one, and Caldera added another basket in the final minutes of the half, however, to give the Bulldogs some breathing room, 24-17, at the break.
But the Rockets came out firing from the perimeter to start the third, with Maxey, Noah Waide and Harrison all logging three’s, and with the foul calls seeming to come at ticky-tack times rather than those when they were warranted, things began to get chippy.
Goddard took their first lead since the opening minutes of the game with 3:15 to go in the third on Harrison’s longball, but Duff drained a trey of his own at the three-minute mark to put Artesia back in front.
A Harrison layup and subsequent trip to the stripe turned the tables again, however, and following a spin move in the paint for two by Houghtaling, the senior post was injured and forced to limp out of the game.
Caldera countered two quick buckets by the Rockets with a drive to the hoop, but a three from half-court at the buzzer by Waide swung the momentum squarely in Goddard’s favor.
Down 41-35 going into the final eight, not only the Bulldogs’ starters but virtually the entire team found themselves in foul trouble as a disjointed eight minutes of quick shots and walks to the line commenced, and with Harrison hitting a pair of three’s prior to the five-minute mark to make it 50-36, Artesia’s chance for a comeback significantly slimmed.
Three points from the line and a Willingham shot off the glass could only bring the ‘Dogs within 13 with just over two minutes to go, and the field goal would prove to be the team’s only one of the period.
The game wound down from the stripe, with the Rockets going 5-6 and Artesia 3-6.
The Bulldogs struggled a bit on the boards Friday, giving the Rockets several extra looks, but the tale of the night from the field was told beyond the arc, where Goddard posted seven treys to Artesia’s one. The ‘Dogs shot 37 percent from the field to Goddard’s 40 and were 62 percent from the line to the Rockets’ 74.
Caldera led the Bulldogs with 10 points, followed by Houghtaling with eight and Duff with seven. Harrison topped all scorers with 18, Waide had 12, and Maxey posted 10.
The Artesia boys (9-11, 1-2) will now head into a four-day break before joining the Lady Bulldogs in kicking off Round Two of district play Friday, Feb. 12, in Lovington.