Bio

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 AIA365.com, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Girls have a (basket) ball at summer camp

It’s amazing what a trip to the 6A Conference championship game can do for a basketball program.

All you have to do is take a quick peek inside Xavier Prep’s Activity Center this week, at the swarm of girls attending the annual basketball camp.

Xavier coach Jennifer Gillom said she has 37 campers here probably one of the most attended camps in recent memory.

The daily sessions run from 2-4 p.m. and feature a wide range of drills to discover and enhance skills at various “stations,’’ as well as brief 3-on-3 games.

Gillom is assisted by junior-varsity head coach Laura Forbes and freshman coach Wendy Woudenberg. There also are close to 10 of Gillom’s current players who will return this winter, as well as the recently graduated power forward Katie Hassett.

Gillom surveys the beehive buzzing with activity and smiles.

“You can see it (enthusiasm) out there. You always have that with a new bunch, but this one seems to have even more. We are really happy for the interest. When you start winning, people notice.’’

Monday’s (June 18) first day started off with a game that Gillom called “Pac-Man.’’

It featured dribbling along the lines of the court, with the campers being followed by those wearing yellow jerseys chasing after them, much like the Pac-Man video game. If a camper is touched by the yellow jersey, they have to sit out.

There is more dribbling after, then shooting, starting with the proper way to place the ball in the hand before releasing it. Agility and hand-eye coordination were tested with a three-player “weave’’ up and down the floor.

Work at the stations then took over. Hassett, one of the state’s top rebounders last season, showed the younger ones how it’s done, not standing directly under the basket because rebounds would be few. She suggested taking a few steps back.

Gillom planned to add a few new drills each day and review the ones previously introduced.

“Some girls have played on a team, but we are still giving them a ton of new stuff, how we do things here at Xavier,’’ she said.

Among the group are about 15 girls who will be freshmen this fall, all eager for a chance to try out for the freshman team.

“Everybody is learning how to communicate, learn about leadership. We are excited to see how far they can go,’’ Gillom said.

Notes – After camp on Monday, Gillom traveled to Thunderbird High in north Phoenix to lead the varsity team in a summer-league game.

Xavier defeated Phoenix Horizon 53-43 to run its record to 4-1. The Gators were due to play again on Tuesday (June 19) at 5 p.m. against Scottsdale Chaparral. Their final “regular season’’ game will be played on Thursday (June 21) at 4 p.m. against Cave Creek Cactus Shadows.

Xavier will play a “playoff’’ game on Saturday (June 23) at 11 a.m. against Glendale Cactus. The playoffs are in a “one and done’’ format. If the Gators win, they would play again on Sunday (June 24) at 4 p.m. against either Laveen Cesar Chavez or Phoenix Sunnyslope. Semis and finals are on Monday (June 25).

**The Thunderbird league also has a JV division. Xavier was 2-3 after Monday’s play.

The JV division also will have a “playoff,’’ with the first game on Sunday at 11 a.m. against either Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep or Phoenix Greenway.

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