Full of energy and focus, the Xavier basketball team took a big step toward reaching its immediate goal on Friday night (Jan. 30) with a big 59-30 road victory over Scottsdale Desert Mountain.
The Gators ran their overall record to 9-15 and Division I, Section III mark to 4-3. Coach Stephen Moss-Kelley recently said that the team likely would need to win two of its final three to earn a spot in the super-sectional tournament, in which state tournament participants are determined.
That is why the win over Desert Mountain was so important. Xavier will have two more sectional games next week – the regular-season home finale against Phoenix Pinnacle on Wednesday (Feb. 4) and regular-season finale on the road against Mesa Dobson on Friday (Feb. 6).
If the Gators play like they did against Desert Mountain, the super-sectional spot would appear to be a realistic goal.
Xavier got 16 points from freshman forward Alana Kelley and 14 from junior guard-forward Vanessa Murphy. But the Gators got a big boost from 6-1 junior forward Brielle Januszewski.
Januszewski, who had played on the junior varsity for much of the season before injuries to varsity players forced some roster adjustments, scored 16 points and was all over the floor. Her recent rise comes at the right time, with freshmen Katie Hassett and Montana Oltrogge sidelined for the rest of the season with injuries.
Friday night’s game also saw the return of senior guard Lexi Carbine, who had missed several games with an injury.
Xavier outscored the Wolves 15-1 in the first quarter, and the rout was on. With a 32-point lead entering the fourth quarter, the clock was changed to a running clock, which is by rule.