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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

XCP hoops ready to start fresh in 2015

It’s a new year and it’s time for a fresh start for Xavier Prep’s basketball team.
The Gators finished 2014 with a 47-39 loss to Cave Creek Cactus Shadows in the (Mesa) Red Mountain Holiday Classic on Wednesday (Dec. 31).
“This is by no means a reflection of our team and the way we are capable of playing,’’ said Gators coach Michelle Williamson. “We want to end this year (2014) on a positive note. The kids have been working very hard on their discipline the last few weeks, particularly on defense.’’
As with some of their previous recent games in the tournament, the Gators kept it close, trailing by two points at halftime. But they couldn’t come up with the plays they needed to down the stretch.
The Gators were frustrated by a disadvantage in fouls in the second half, which resulted in Cactus Shadows converting 12 of 20 free-throw attempts.  At one point, Xavier had been called for 10 fouls, Cactus Shadows only two. Xavier made 4 of its 8 free-throw attempts in the second half.
Three players combined to score 38 of Xavier’s points – junior Vanessa Murphy (15), freshman Alana Kelley (13) and freshman Katie Hassett (10).
Williamson was pleased with the all-around play of Hassett, who is expected to see more playing time in 2015 with the season-ending knee injury to freshman Montana Oltrogge.
The Gators (5-10) will have at least a few days off before resuming practice. XCP will have two home games next week – on Thursday (Jan. 8) against Mesa Westwood and on Friday (Jan. 9) against Phoenix Desert Vista (Ahwatukee).
“We wanted the kids to play a lot of minutes in the tournament, and they were able to do that,’’ said Williamson.
“Now it is time to go back to work. We will go back to tear down our offense a bit and make some adjustments, and we are going to give the players specific things to work on as individuals. We have confidence in our players.’’

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