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.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Soccer takes opponents to limit but falls short

Wednesday (Dec. 30) proved to be a tough final day for the Xavier Prep soccer team in the Excalibur Tournament of Champions in Irvine, Calif.
The Gators began the day at 3-0 after winning their first three games of the tournament.
But they fell to Esperanza (Anaheim, Calif.) on penalty kicks after battling to a scoreless tie in the semifinals, then suffered another penalty-kick loss to Chaminade (Los Angeles) after the two teams tied at 1 in regulation in the third-place game on Wednesday night.
Xavier coach Barb Chura said the Gators dominated the game against Esperanza, but could not put the ball in the net during regulation time.
Chura said she played reserves in the third-place game to give them experience and the Gators held up well. Senior Jackie Tait scored the XCP goal on a feed from sophomore Hannah Hale.
Xavier (8-2) had two players selected to the All-Tournament Team – senior Lex Allard and sophomore goalkeeper Kinsey Ehmann.
The Gators return home to Petznick Field on Tuesday (Jan. 5) for a game against Phoenix Pinnacle.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Xavier on a roll, reaches soccer tourney semis

This is shaping up to be quite a memorable season for Xavier Prep’s soccer team.
The Gators ran their record to 8-0 on Tuesday (Dec. 29) and reached Wednesday's (Dec. 30) semifinals of the Excalibur Tournament of Champions in Irvine, Calif.
It is the most success Xavier has had in the years since first coming to the prestigious tournament.
The Gators will meet Esperanza, Calif., in a semifinal contest at 1:30 p.m., Arizona time, on Wednesday. The winner will play for the tournament championship at 7:30 p.m., and the loser will play in the third-place game at 6 p.m.
Xavier began the day on Tuesday with a 2-0 win over Temecula Valley, Calif., then played Cypress, Calif. The Gators fell into a 2-0 hole against Cypress before rallying in the second half for a 2-2 tie and then earning the victory with a 5-4 edge in penalty kicks.
Sophomore goalkeeper Kinsey Ehmann made a pair of penalty kick saves to ensure the victory.
Down, 2-0, the Gators came back in the second half with goals by freshman Emily Chiao and sophomore Abby Hubbard.
Freshman Sadie Wintergalen set up the first goal with an aggressive run down the flank, beating a defender and getting the ball to Chiao. On the second goal, Olivia Chan made a long run and fired a shot at the goal. The Cypress goalkeeper mishandled the shot and Hubbard was there to finish the play.
Xavier coach Barb Chura said Cypress was by far the best team the Gators have faced in the tournament, and said Esperanza also will provide a big challenge.
Against Temecula Valley, both of Xavier's goals came in the first half.
Junior defender Maddie Amavila picked up the point on the first goal, and sophomore defender Madeline Warren connected for the second score. Both goals came off of corner kicks.
Chura said the game was physical and fast-paced, “and the defense by the whole team held strong.’’
The coach was able to play most of her girls on her roster against Temecula Valley.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Gator soccer triumphs in first round

Xavier Prep’s soccer team reached the round of 16 after a 3-0 first-round victory on Monday (Dec. 28) over Long Beach Poly in the Excalibur Tournament of Champions in Irvine, Calif.
The Gators (6-0) will play Temecula, Calif., or San Clemente, Calif., in the second round on Tuesday (Dec. 29). That game will begin at 11:30 a.m., Arizona time. Xavier also will play another game later in the day.
Freshman Alison Broderick scored the Gators’ first goal in the first half. She connected from about 30 yards out off an assist from Natalie Duque. Xavier had several other good chances in the first half. Sadie Wintergalen set up many of those attempts by outworking the opposing defense.
Quiqui Hita had a fine all-around game for the Gators and scored the team’s second goal for a 2-0 lead in the second half. Emily Chiao provided the assist.
Chiao accounted for XCP’s final goal after dribbling the ball through three defenders and sliding the ball past the Long Beach Poly goalkeeper.
Kinsey Ehmann was solid in goal for the Gators, and her defensive teammates kept the opponent away from the goal most of the time.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Soccer team ready for Calif. tournament

The Xavier Prep soccer team takes over center stage during the week between Christmas and New Year’s with five games over three days in the Excalibur Tournament of Champions at the Great Park in Irvine, Calif.
The Gators are riding an early streak of success with a 5-0 record. They have outscored opponents 17-2 during that time, including three shutouts.
Xavier opens play in the Excalibur on Monday (Dec. 28) with a noon (Arizona time) start against Long Beach Poly.
A win over Long Beach Poly would set up a second-round game on Tuesday (Dec. 29) against either Temecula, Calif., or San Clemente, Calif., at 11:30 a.m. (Arizona time). A loss to Long Beach Poly would lead to a loser’s bracket game on Tuesday against Temecula or San Clemente, with a 10:30 a.m. (Arizona time) start.
Two more games are scheduled Wednesday (Dec. 30). Starting times depend upon what the Gators do in the earlier rounds.
The Gators return to regular-season action on Jan. 5 with a home match against Phoenix Pinnacle at Petznick Field.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Back to the drawing board for Xavier hoops

Xavier Prep’s basketball team will have these next two weeks over the holidays to sit back and reflect on what occurred in the Nike Tournament of Champions and take steps toward improvement.
The Gators won their first game of the tournament, held in south Phoenix and the east Valley, but then lost three in a row and saw their overall record dip to 9-4.
The last two came on Monday (Dec. 21) and Tuesday (Dec. 22).
Both games were close. Xavier had fallen into the loser’s bracket of the Gold Division after a loss on Saturday (Dec. 19) to Huntington Beach, Calif.
XCP then took Cherry Creek, Colo. (Greenwood Village) to overtime on Monday, and Cherry Creek came away with a 71-65 victory.
That set up a seventh-place game on Tuesday against Lutheran High of Colorado (Parker), and Lutheran earned a 56-52 win, holding off a furious rally by the Gators.
XCP returns to action on Jan. 4, facing Anthem Boulder Creek in a 6:15 p.m. game that will be played at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix. The arena is home to the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Good start for XCP hoops, finish not so much

Xavier Prep’s basketball team walked into its Nike Tournament of Champions game on Saturday (Dec. 19) and jumped to a 10-0 lead over Huntington Beach, Calif.
The Gators went on to another easy victory, right?
Not really. From that point on, everything that could go wrong for the team did at Gilbert Campo Verde High.
They lost their shooting touch. Their passes went into the hands of the opponent as much or more than they did their own. Huntington Beach was more aggressive on the boards and played with a much more physical approach.
It all added up to a 58-40 victory for Huntington Beach, and dropped the Gators (9-2) into the loser’s bracket of the Gold Division.
Xavier’s next game is Monday (Dec. 21) at 1 p.m. against Cherry Creek (Colo). The game will be played at the Kroc Center in Phoenix, 13th Street and Broadway Road. Xavier would play again on Tuesday (Dec. 22) at 10 a.m. or 11:30 a.m. at Kroc.
Xavier was outscored 19-10 in the second quarter and 14-6 in the third.
Sophomore Alana Kelley scored 12 points to lead the Gators. Senior Vanessa Murphy scored 10, but all of those were in the first half. She spent most of the second half frustrated by foul trouble.
Xavier opened the tournament on Friday (Dec. 18) with a 67-32 win over Windsor, Calif.