With three games this past week and three more in the week coming up, Xavier Prep’s basketball team is trying to survive “an NBA-type schedule,’’ according to coach Stephen Moss.
“The academic challenges are enough in themselves with as many as three to four hours of homework per night, but to do that and play well on the court, I am proud of the way they have responded.’’
The Gators were feeling a bit down after back-to-back losses to Gilbert Highland (Jan. 19) and Gilbert Mesquite (Jan. 22), the latter in overtime. But they bounced back this past week with wins over Mesa Red Mountain, Tempe Corona del Sol and the most recent, a 62-30 road triumph over Mesa Mountain View on Friday night (Jan. 29).
Xavier (15-8) begins next week with home games against Division II Glendale Raymond S. Kellis on Monday (Feb. 1) and Scottsdale Chaparral on Tuesday (Feb. 2) and wraps up the regular season with a road game against Mesa Dobson on Friday (Feb. 5).
Brackets for the Division I state tournament are due to be released by the Arizona Interscholastic Association the next day, Saturday (Feb. 6).
“You want to play your best ball entering the tournament and we are showing signs of that,’’ Moss said. “There is no break for us. We are jockeying for position (seedings). Last season, we were playing just to get better and barely missed (the tournament). This year, we are going to be ready to play.’’
Sophomore forward Alana Kelley led Xavier past Corona del Sol with 17 points and 12 rebounds on Thursday night (Jan. 28), and came back to lead the Gators again against Mountain View with 16 points.
Senior forward Vanessa Murphy scored 14 points, including Xavier’s first 10 points of the game, and sophomore forward-post Montana Oltrogge contributed 12 points.
Murphy connected on three three-pointers and Xavier finished with seven of the long shots. Senior Cydeni Carter had two and junior Brittany Robinson had two.
Moss said he has discovered a pleasant surprise and another option at guard with junior Chelsey Brutlag.
She did not score, but ran the offense well and played solid defense.
“Chelsey is good running the offense. She doesn’t try to do too much. She is a good fit,’’ Moss said. “She also plays good defense. She has earned more playing time by working very hard in practice.’’