DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four 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, December 16, 2014

Xavier hoops storms past rival St. Mary's

It was a perfect storm for the XCP basketball team on Monday night (Dec.15).
The Gators defeated rival Phoenix St. Mary’s 71-23 to end a seven-game losing streak and gave themselves momentum going into the Red Mountain (Mesa) holiday tournament during the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
Xavier (4-7) was on its game from the opening tip, playing strong defense and setting up its offense with crisp passing.
The scoring was balanced. Junior Vanessa Murphy, a former St. Mary’s player, scored 19 points against her former team. The Gators had three other players score in double figures – Lexi Carbine 14, Brittany Robinson 12 and Alana Kelley 10.
“Hopefully we will be able to carry over this good feeling into the Red Mountain tournament,’’ said XCP interim coach Michelle Williamson.
“We worked hard in practice this week. We take pride in our defense. We went back to basics, where everybody hustles on defense and carries on down the line. That way, we don’t have to use the press so much.
“The kids played with a positive spirit. Just about everybody got a good amount of playing time.’’
Asked about the improved passing on offense, the coach said, “We asked them to recognize their options, to not take their shots too quickly. We also worked on that, looking for the open players.’’
Murphy and Carbine each scored nine points in the first quarter as XCP rolled out to a 20-5 lead.
Carbine and Murphy each hit a 3-pointer in the second quarter as the Gators raced to a 38-9 lead at halftime. The St. Mary’s cause was hampered by what appeared to be an ankle injury to point guard Ivy Cotton with about a minute left in the first quarter. She is the one who sets up the Knights’ offense. She returned with about three minutes left in the first half.
Cotton hit a 3-pointer to begin the third quarter, but Xavier’s balance was too much to overcome as St. Mary’s fell to 0-10.
Robinson, a sophomore, came off the bench to drill four 3-pointers in the second half.
It was that kind of night for the Gators.

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