DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for more than three decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Winsor more than just a Face in the Crowd

Xavier Prep athletic director and golf co-head coach Sr. Lynn Winsor is the subject of a profile in the Faces in the Crowd section of the latest (July 17) issue of Sports Illustrated.

The article chronicles Winsor’s tenure at XCP that goes back to the early 1970s and includes 34 state championships, including six in a row through the fall of 2016. Winsor also had a similar SI profile in 1993.
Accompanying the new article is a recent photo of Winsor, former Gator golfer Cheyenne Woods and associate athletic director and golf co-head coach Tui Selvaratnam.
In June, Winsor was selected the All-USA Girls Golf Coach of the Year for the 2016-17 school year by the American Family Insurance Group and USA Today.
Congratulations, Sr. Lynn!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Gators' dive coach Pipitone earns award

Winning an award for coaching is a great achievement, but it’s how you get there that just might be even more special.
That is how Xavier Prep diving coach Frank Pipitone looks at it.
“A kid with good character might be better than one with good diving skills,’’ Pipitone said Monday (July 10) after being notified of his selection as the Girls Diving Coach of the Year for the 2015-16 school year by the Arizona Interscholastic Swim and Dive Coaches Association.
Pipitone, who will be coaching his sixth season at Xavier in the fall (he also coaches the Brophy Prep divers), said the character of the Xavier goals “is so far above the standard that it makes a coach’s job a lot easier.’’
The award winner is chosen by the state’s coaches “and it’s nice to be recognized,’’ Pipitone said.
The best part for Pipitone is watching a meet where his athletes implement a dive that they have seldom used because they are learning, and then have them post a decent score.
“Of course, you want to win, but when you see them dive and come up with their head above the water with a big smile on their face, they can tell they did a good job and it means they are learning. Those types of things are why I coach,’’ he said.
A school is allowed to send only four divers to the state meet. Xavier had four divers (three sophomores and a freshman) finish fourth, seventh, 17th and 18th. Divers qualify by reaching a certain provisional point total during the regular season.
“That’s one thing that makes my job more of a challenge is when you have even more than four girls reach that point total and you can take only four. But it’s a good problem to have,’’ Pipitone said.
He is looking for more of the same this fall.
“We’ll be competitive,’’ he said.
Official practices are due to begin around the second week of August. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Golfer Menne triumphs in AJGA tournament

Xavier Prep athletic director and golf co-head coach Sr. Lynn Winsor likes to refer to sophomore to be golfer Ashley Menne as Smashly.
Perhaps that is because Menne has the strength to drive the ball all over the course.
But she has touch, too, from the fringe of the green to putts on the carpet. That is what makes her a complete player, one that the state of Arizona has not seen in quite some time.
Menne’s talents have enabled her to have an outstanding summer on the course. The latest achievement came over the weekend when she won the Ryan Moore American Junior Golf Association Tournament at the Oakbrook Golf Course in Lakewood, Wash.
Menne was ahead of the pack from beginning to end in the three-day event, finishing with a 202, seven shots better than second-place Kailie Vongsaga of Diamond Bar, Calif., and setting a tournament record by five shots.
She shot a final-round 70, including an ace on the 13th hole. She used a 6-iron on the 161-yard hole.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Hoops semi setback ends Gator JV's summer

Xavier’s junior-varsity Gators gave it a good shot, but came up short on Monday (June 26) in the semifinals of the JV bracket in the Thunderbird (High) basketball summer league.
Xavier, which had an opening-round win over Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor on Sunday (June 25), could not develop enough offense against Phoenix Pinnacle in a 44-29 setback. Pinnacle went on to meet Phoenix St. Mary’s for the JV title later Monday night.
The Gators finished with a respectable 6-3 record in summer play.

Short-handed Gators fall in hoops tourney

A different day, a different opponent and a different result for the Xavier Prep basketball team.
The Gators, who couldn’t do anything wrong against Scottsdale Saguaro for a big win on Saturday (June 24) in the Thunderbird (High) Summer League tournament, could do very little right on Sunday (June 25) in a quarterfinal game against Phoenix Arcadia.
Arcadia rode the steady hand of guard Bryce Nixon, a University of Arizona commitment, and used its experience from a 26-3 finish last season to dismantle Xavier, 56-40.
Xavier, missing four starters (three club-ball commitments and one injury rehab) finished its summer schedule at 7-2. The Gators had won seven straight entering Sunday’s play.
“We missed our senior leadership, that’s for sure,’’ said coach Jennifer Gillom, referring to inside players Montana Oltrogge, Katie Hassett and Alana Kelley.
“We (coaches) figured that (the team) would either come out and play lights out or might have some difficulty with Arcadia’s experience. They are a good team.’’
Xavier hung with the Titans early in the contest, holding an 18-16 lead, but Arcadia outscored the Gators 17-0 over the remaining minutes of the first half for a 33-18 lead at the break.
The second half was fairly even, with Arcadia doing just enough to maintain its comfortable lead.
“We tried to pressure them (Arcadia) like we did against Saguaro, but they don’t really crack under pressure,’’ Gillom said. “All of our girls fought until the end and that’s all I can ask. We could have ended up losing by 30, but they played as hard as they could. We kind of needed a tough game like this. I am not disappointed at all. I am extremely proud of the girls.’’
The Xavier player most affected by the lineup change was junior Paris Moore, who starts on the wing and plays the point on occasion. Gillom put her in the post to try to take advantage of her athleticism, but the physical play of the Arcadia players underneath the basket took its toll.
Moore was gassed by the end, bending over and putting her hands on her knees while trying to catch her breath.
“She was kind of skinny in there, but to her credit, she did what she could to keep it going for us,’’ Gillom said.
Most of the players on the Xavier roster will return to their club teams before Xavier practices resume in August. Gillom said the school’s two gymnasiums are expected to have their floors resurfaced in July, part of a sprucing-up project for the entire campus.
Xavier’s team in the league’s junior-varsity bracket earned a 37-23 victory over Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor on Sunday and will meet Phoenix Pinnacle in a semifinal game on Monday (June 26) at 1 p.m. in Thunderbird’s main gym. The JV bracket championship game is at 7 p.m., with the varsity title contest beginning at 9 p.m.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Press powers Gators in summer hoops

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Judging from Xavier Prep’s performances in the (Phoenix) Thunderbird summer basketball league, some people might say that engraving the Gators’ name on the 6A state championship trophy is but a formality.
But there is a long, long way to go before that opportunity presents itself. If it presents itself.
To be sure, Xavier looks like one of the top teams in the state, and even with two starters missing and a third in a limited role on Saturday (June 24), looked the part of a contender.
Xavier showed its depth and unleashed a blistering full-court press that decided the game even before halftime with a 69-20 victory over Scottsdale Saguaro.
The Gators, 7-1 in summer league play, move on to Sunday’s (June 25) quarterfinals with a game against the Phoenix Arcadia “A’’ team. Tipoff is 6 p.m. The XCP junior-varsity team (5-2) will have a playoff game in the JV bracket on Sunday at 1 p.m. against Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor.
Saguaro’s Sabercats didn’t really know what hit them on Saturday. They were down by 16 points before scoring their first points with 16:23 left in the first half. Xavier led 37-7 at the half. The Xavier reserves were not as quick but still effective in the second half and the team continued to maintain its comfortable advantage.
Xavier coach Jen Gillom doesn’t want her players getting too comfortable.
“We want to build the lead,’’ she said. “There might be a tendency to let up a little after that, but we don’t want our players to lose their focus.
“We will be playing a better team on Sunday and we need to keep that same intensity, do another good job.’’
Practicing that style of defense requires a conscious effort, but done enough, “It can be instinct for them and that’s what we are doing now.’’
A team rarely can maintain that type of defensive pace unless it has good speed, and the Gators appear to have plenty of it.
“The speed of our team is incredible,’’ Gillom said. “We can really put pressure on the other team.’’
Gillom was missing three starters on Saturday and a fourth will be added on Sunday. Junior point guard Leilani McIntosh and senior forward Katie Hassett had club-team commitments and senior forward Alana Kelley continues to allow her knee to recover after surgery.
Senior forward Montana Oltrogge played Saturday, but will be sidelined due to club ball on Sunday and Monday, if Xavier advances.
A bright spot on Saturday was the play of sophomore wing player Elysia Fleetwood. She did not play basketball a year but showed a great deal of promise in track and field. She decided to try basketball this year, can run the floor, has quick moves and a good shot and appears to have good court sense.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Benson helps U.S. volleyball advance

The Pan American Cup for volleyball has a distinct Xavier Prep presence.
Xavier product Amanda Benson, also a former star at the University of Oregon, had an excellent match against Argentina on Wednesday (June 21) as the U.S. National Team won Pool A with a 27-25, 25-14, 25-23 sweep in Canete, Peru.
The Americans are now 5-0, bypass Friday’s (June 23) quarterfinals and will play a semifinal match on Saturday (June 24). The U.S. team has defeated Venezuela, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Argentina to this point.
Benson, a 5-foot-7 libero, had nine digs against Argentina along with nine excellent receptions out of 16 total chances.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Gators ready for summer hoops playoffs

Xavier Prep’s basketball team, which began the Thunderbird (High) Summer League with a loss and then reeled off six straight wins, is ready to go when the league playoffs get under way on Saturday (June 24).
Xavier will open play against Scottsdale Saguaro at 11 a.m. on Saturday in the school’s main gym. If the Gators win, they would play the Phoenix Arcadia “A’’ team on Sunday (June 25) at 6 p.m. in the main gym.
Semifinals and finals are on Monday (June 26) at 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.
The Gators and coach Jen Gillom will face a big challenge in the playoffs. A handful of the team’s top players will be absent due to club-team commitments.
Gillom is not as worried as one might think.
She used many of her reserves in a 64-36 win over the Thunderbird Orange team in the last regular game.
“They did a pretty good job,’’ she said. “They know they will be counted on to do more, so they will have to step up. And it is good to give them that type of experience.’’