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.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Hassett comes up big as XCP powers past Perry

One of the marks of a good basketball team comes when one of its top players struggles or gets into foul trouble and another player steps in to fill the gap.

That occurred on Tuesday night (Jan. 16), when Xavier Prep faced visiting Gilbert Perry at the Activity Center.

Top scorer Montana Oltrogge was saddled with foul trouble. She had three in the first half and picked up her fourth about halfway through the third quarter. She finished with 11 points.

Fellow senior inside player Katie Hassett had a big first half and continued to raise her level of play in the second half. She scored 12 of her team-high 28 points after the break as the Gators rebounded from a tough loss at Gilbert Mesquite on Jan. 12 for a 79-52 win over Perry.

Xavier raised its overall record to 17-4 and 6A Conference Premier Region mark to 5-0. Perry, which fell to the Gators in an earlier game this season, saw its overall record dip to 8-11.

The Gators had a 26-8 lead after the first quarter and continued to build on that.

After the 65-62 loss at Mesquite, Xavier coach Jennifer Gillom said she wanted to see more balance on offense because only four players scored, and one of those scored a single point.

The balance returned, with eight players putting points on the board. Four were in double figures. Hassett had 28, guard Paris Moore had 12, Oltrogge had 11 and point guard Leilani McIntosh had 10.

Because of a Xavier lead of 30 points, officials went to a running clock in the final five minutes of the game.

The Gators return to action on Friday (Jan. 19) with a non-region home game against Anthem Boulder Creek. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.

Soccer Gators put the chill on Chandler offense

Junior Kyla Ferry continued her prolific scoring and senior goalkeeper Kinsey Ehmann came up with her sixth shutout of the season with a 3-0 victory over Chandler High on Tuesday night (Jan. 16) at Petznick Field.

The contest originally was to be at Chandler, but work was being done on its field and the game was moved to Xavier.

Ferry had two goals and an assist, giving her 17 and 10 for the season, respectively. Senior Abby Hubbard scored her 11th goal of the season and added an assist. And senior Mady Chait also had an assist.

Another big reason for the shutout was the play on defense of freshman Ololade Adebayo. She stayed with her opponents all night and helped to cut off the passing lanes.

Xavier (10-2-1) will hit the road again on Thursday night (Jan. 18) for a match at Gilbert Perry.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Valiant hoops effort falls just short

Keep playing. Don’t stop. Whatever happens, do not stop. You never know what is going to happen.

It was a valiant effort by Xavier Prep’s basketball team on Friday night (Jan. 12). The Gators trailed host Gilbert Mesquite by 14 points in the third quarter and by 10 when the fourth quarter began.

Xavier battled back to take the lead with 1:53 left in regulation, but Mesquite recovered and posted a heart-pumping 65-62 victory.

Mesquite, the defending 5A Conference state champion, raised its overall record to 16-3. It was the second victory by the Wildcats over Xavier this season. The first came in the (Gilbert) Highland Thanksgiving tournament.

Xavier, meanwhile, had a 14-game winning streak snapped and fell to 16-4.

There were times when Xavier only slightly resembled the team that built that outstanding record. Not much seemed to go right. The Gators were their own worst enemy at times, and combined with Mesquite’s cut-and-pass offense, chances for a recovery seemed remote.

The Gators’ comeback hinged on their 3-point shooting. They connected on seven of their nine  long-range shots after intermission.

The last one came with 1:53 left in regulation, by Addison Putnam, who had four in all, that gave the Gators a 61-59 lead.

Then fate interceded.

After a Mesquite timeout with 1:15 left, Hailey Walker stepped to the free-throw line for a one-and-one situation with 1:08 remaining. She missed and after a teammate grabbed the rebound, Walker circled back outside and drained a 3-pointer. Miss the free throw but not the 3. Go figure.

Walker did manage to convert two free throws with 22.3 seconds left to make it 64-61. Xavier forward Montana Oltrogge hit two free throws with 6.1 seconds left, but the first one was waved off when it was ruled that she stepped over the line.

Shaylee Gonzales finished it off for Mesquite by hitting one of two free throws with 5 seconds left.

After a sluggish start, Oltrogge came back to finish with 28 points, including three 3s in the second half. Point guard Leilani McIntosh had 21 with a pair of 3s.

Lindsey VanAllen led Mesquite with 27 points and joined Gonzales in the career 2,000-point club, a well-earned rarity.

Xavier coach Jennifer Gillom and her teammates were disappointed by the outcome, but she could not fault her team’s effort.
“I’m still proud of them,’’ Gillom said. “They played the best team in the state right down to the end. We showed a lot of heart. We never gave up.

“Mesquite is a very experienced team. They have played together for a long time and that was the difference.’’

Xavier attempted to pressure the Wildcats as they have with most of their other opponents this season, but Mesquite’s ability to neutralize that approach was above that level most of the time.

“We pressured them a lot but they kept their poise,’’ Gillom said.

Only four of the Gators scored, and she would like to see a better balance.

So it is time to get back on the bike and start pedaling again.

“We showed we can play with anybody tonight,’’ Gillom said.

On Tuesday (Jan. 16), Xavier will begin its second trip through the 6A Conference Premier Region with a home contest against Gilbert Perry. Tipoff is 7 p.m.

Soccer tie better than the alternative

What’s the best way for a soccer team to diminish an opponent’s momentum after it scores first?

Return the favor.

Xavier Prep’s Gators gave up a goal to visiting Phoenix Pinnacle on a penalty kick about nine minutes into their match on Friday afternoon (Jan. 12), but got the equalizer about a minute later.

Neither team scored after that, including two brief overtime periods, and had to settle for a 1-1 tie.

Xavier’s overall record is 9-2-1. The Gators now face three straight road games, at Chandler High (Jan. 16), Gilbert Perry (Jan. 18) and Phoenix Desert Vista (Jan. 22).

Senior Abby Hubbard scored Xavier’s goal against Pinnacle, with an assist from sophomore Jocelyn Rupp.

Both teams had their chances after that, but could not connect. A few even hit the crossbar and bounced back over.

Hubbard was wide right on a shot early in the second half and was stopped short after making a steal a few minutes later.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Gators warm up for win, now challenge Mesquite

For the first few minutes of their game against visiting Mesa Desert Ridge on Thursday night (Jan. 11), Xavier Prep’s Gators could have worn hoodie sweatshirts.

They were a bit cold in the shooting department. Very few of their attempts wanted to go in the basket, often clanking off the rim.

It stood to reason that things eventually would heat up, and that reasoning was correct.

The Gators’ radar began to work as it has most of the season to date, and they rolled to a 53-27 victory at the Activity Center.

The win was Xavier’s 14th in a row and raised its overall record to 16-3. Desert Ridge fell to 6-14.

Now comes one of the Gators’ biggest challenges of the season.

On Friday night (Jan. 12), they travel to face Gilbert Mesquite, the defending 5A Conference champion that has won all of its games (15-3) except for a three-game struggle in the prestigious Nike Tournament of Champions in Chandler just before Christmas.

Mesquite handed Xavier one of its losses this season, 60-52 in the (Gilbert) Highland Thanksgiving tournament. The Wildcats feature one of the state’s top players in guard Shaylee Gonzales, who has committed to BYU.

The contest figures to be a battle between Gonzales and her backcourt mates against the strong Xavier inside tandem of Montana Oltrogge and Katie Hassett.

Expect Xavier guards Leilani McIntosh and Paris Moore to have their hands full. Oltrogge and Hassett have been putting a lot of points on the board and Hassett in particular also has become a rebounding and defensive force underneath.

Against Desert Ridge, Xavier coach Jennifer Gillom wanted to try to build as big of a lead as possible to allow Oltrogge and others to conserve some of their energy for the Mesquite contest. Oltrogge scored 17 points against the Jaguars in the first half and did not play in the second.

Addison Putnam finished with 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, and Hassett scored eight.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Xavier golfer Menne makes commitment to ASU

Arizona State’s golf team snared a big catch with the announcement that Xavier Prep sophomore Ashley Menne, a two-time state champion, has committed to play for the Sun Devils once she graduates from XCP. The agreement was first reported by

An attractive element to the move is the fact that ASU coach Missy Farr Kaye formerly played at Xavier.

Menne also continues to play well in junior golf events around the state and is an outstanding student.

The Sun Devils are getting a great one !!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

XCP slips past Hamilton in tourney-like match

The soccer match had a state tournament feel. Every kick, every pass, every save, everything.

And in a battle of closely matched teams, Xavier Prep emerged triumphant with a 1-0 victory over visiting Chandler Hamilton at Petznick Field on Tuesday night (Jan. 9).

Xavier, playing its first home match of the new year, raised its overall record to 9-2, while Hamilton dropped to 10-5-1.

Xavier coach Barb Chura and assistant Rafael Rios knew Hamilton would be a formidable opponent. The Huskies appear to be similar to Xavier in some ways.

Hamilton was the aggressor early in the match, often beating the Gators to the ball and sending it out of trouble.

The Gators got the break they would need with 15:51 left in the first half when they scored a goal by sophomore Brynn Lebel after junior Kyla Ferry redirected the trajectory of the ball near the front of the goal for the assist.

Xavier’s defensive pace picked up after that, particularly in the second half, and made the goal stand up.

“They (Hamilton) had some chances to tie it, but we were able to keep them from scoring,’’ Chura said. “In the second half, we were able to put more pressure on them higher up the field.’’

The coach said senior goalkeeper Kinsey Ehmann had a fantastic game, making several key saves.

Another effort of note was by freshman midfielder Ololade Adebayo, who spent most of the match shadowing Olivia Knab, one of Hamilton’s top players. Adebayo is a fine all-around athlete who uses quickness and strength to her advantage.

Xavier next plays on Friday (Jan. 12) with a 4 p.m. match against Phoenix Pinnacle at Petznick Field. Pinnacle features one of the state’s top goalkeepers in Jalen Tompkins. Pinnacle is 10-2.

Oltrogge, Hassett spark Gators again

Xavier Prep’s inside tandem of Montana Oltrogge and Katie Hassett were working well together again on Tuesday night (Jan. 9) as the Gators rolled past host Chandler Hamilton 66-30 in a 6A Conference Premier Region game.

Oltrogge scored 18 points and Hassett had 14 to help Xavier win its 13th straight game (15-3) and put its region record at 4-0.

Starting Thursday (Jan. 11), Xavier will have two games in a row. The Gators face Mesa Desert Ridge on Thursday night and on Friday (Jan. 12) will travel to face Gilbert Mesquite.

Mesquite is the defending 5A Conference state champion and handed Xavier one of its defeats earlier this season in the (Gilbert) Highland Thanksgiving tournament. Mesquite features one of the state’s top players in guard Shaylee Gonzales.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Gator basketball enjoys party time

A big effort calls for a big-time birthday bash.

And Xavier Prep’s Gators celebrated accordingly.

Friday night (Jan. 5) was the birthday of 6-foot-2 Katie Hassett, and she and 6-1 Montana Oltrogge, a fellow senior inside player, combined for 54 of the team’s points in an 82-50 victory over host Chandler High in a 6A Conference Premier Region game.

Oltrogge scored 33 points and Hassett added 21 as Xavier raised its overall record to 14-3 and region mark to 3-0. Chandler slipped to 7-7 and 1-1.

Xavier coach Jennifer Gillom couldn’t stop smiling afterward.

“This was a really good game for us,’’ she said. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Chandler, except that I know they always have good speed.

“We came out with poise and intensity and when we do that at both ends of the floor, we are hard to beat.’’

It was apparent during pre-game warm-ups that Xavier would have a size advantage with Hassett and Oltrogge, “and we had to take advantage of it,’’ Gillom said.

Of Hassett’s birthday, Gillom said, “The team all played for her. That’s what I like about it. We do everything together.’’

Oltrogge scored 24 of her points in the first half as the Gators built a 49-30 lead at intermission. She added nine more, including a 3-pointer, in the second half, and finished with 19 rebounds. Hassett scored 14 of her points in the second half.

Though Chandler was overmatched, you had to give the Wolves credit for hanging in there most of the way. Their shorter players connected on some 3-pointers and fearlessly drove to the basket, often putting the ball in or drawing a foul.

The region schedule continues for the Gators on Tuesday (Jan. 9), when they travel to face Chandler Hamilton at 7 p.m.

Xavier soccer takes a trip to remember

The long ride to Yuma was worth the trip for Xavier Prep’s soccer team on Friday (Jan. 5) as the Gators produced a 4-1 victory over host Yuma Kofa.

Kyla Ferry came through with a hat trick and an assist. Abby Hubbard scored the Gators’ other goal and Jocelyn Rupp had a pair of assists.

Xavier returns home to Petznick Field for a contest against Chandler Hamilton on Tuesday (Jan. 9). Start time is 6 p.m.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Gators don't worry about zero on scoreboard

It was maybe Xavier Prep’s most dominant basketball game of the season.

How dominant?

The Gators put a big goose egg on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter (running clock), yet still defeated visiting Chandler Basha by 35 points, 62-27 on Wednesday night (Jan. 3) at the Activity Center.

Xavier’s second 6A Conference Premier Region win was its 11th in a row overall and gave the team a 13-3 overall record.

XCP will resume region play on Friday night (Jan. 5) at Chandler High. The Wolves have a 7-6 record, and this will be their first game since Dec. 22, when they fell to Chaparral (Parker, Colo.) in the Nike Tournament of Champions in Chandler.

The closest that Basha would get against Xavier was a 2-2 tie. From there, the contest resembled a track meet.

Xavier had three players score in double figures – senior forward Montana Oltrogge (21 points) and junior guards Paris Moore (11) and Leilani McIntosh (10).

The Gators had five 3-point baskets – two each by Oltrogge and junior Addison Putnam and one by Moore.

Soccer team hits trail for game at Yuma Kofa

Xavier Prep’s soccer team returns to action on Friday (Jan. 5) with a long road trip to play Yuma Kofa. The contest begins at 5 p.m.

The Gators have a 7-2 overall record after a solid performance (2-2) in the recent Excalibur Invitational in California. Kofa is 5-5.

Xavier is led by junior forward Kyla Ferry, who has 12 goals and 7 assists.

Senior Abby Hubbard have 8 and 3 goals, respectively. Sophomore Elizabeth Warren and senior Mady Chait have 5 and 4 assists, respectively.

The Gators return home for the first time in the New Year on Tuesday (Jan. 9), facing Chandler Hamilton.