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.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Gators learn how to handle any hoops situation

It was a game of streaks between Xavier Prep and Scottsdale Chaparral in Thursday’s (June 12) summer basketball league at Phoenix Thunderbird.
Xavier took a 13-point lead before Chaparral outscored the Gators 13-1 over the final nine minutes of the first half for a two-point lead at halftime.
Xavier regained its balance for a seven-point lead early in the second of two 20-minute halves, only to have the Firebirds come back to within 33-32. The Gators then pulled away again with an 11-0 run and maintained control the rest of the way for a 48-41 victory.
The Gators have a 4-1 record with two games left to play before the playoffs start. They will face the Phoenix North “A” team on Thursday (June 15) at 9 p.m. and will meet the Thunderbird “Orange’’ squad on June 19 at 9 p.m.
“I’m continually impressed by how our team keeps working hard,’’ said Xavier coach Jennifer Gillom. “They are starting to believe they can win.’’
She still follows her plan of “playing every player I can so they can learn, and you hope you have enough to win and still follow that process.’’
You can see that many of the players have matured since last season, when the Gators finished 20-7.
Senior forward Montana Oltrogge continues to evolve into an offensive force with a turnaround jumper that is finding the bottom of the net more often than not.
Senior forward Katie Hassett continues to upgrade her rebounding and defensive skills.
Junior point guard Leilani McIntosh appears to be playing more under control as she drives to the basket, finding better timing as she dishes the ball off or completes the drive. She also appears to have more confidence in her outside shot.
Junior guard Paris Moore still offers a strong defensive presence and is becoming more involved in the offensive rotation. She, too, appears to have a better idea of when to drive to the basket and when to pull back a bit.
Gillom has a promising group of young players, including freshman guard Victoria Salcedo. She has been playing for the Xavier junior-varsity team that also is playing in this league as well as getting extra time on the floor for the varsity, as she did against Chaparral (4-2).
“We are interested to see what she can do,’’ Gillom said.
Some people might think that it can be difficult to get a true evaluation of players in a summer league with its relaxed atmosphere.
“There’s still some teaching going on in this league and you can see people improving,’’ Gillom said.

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