Phoenix Desert Vista has the top-ranked girls basketball team in Arizona and is among the top teams in the nation.
That was the cold, hard truth for coach Stephen Moss-Kelley and his Xavier Prep Gators on Friday night (Jan. 10).
With a 6-10 record, he knew his team’s chances of winning this game were next to none.
“It is what it is,’’ he said.
It was a matter of whether the Gators could show improvement and what they were able to do to reach that goal.
Desert Vista scored 102 points in a lopsided win over Mesa Skyline on Thursday night (Jan. 9), so the fact that Xavier held the Thunder to 72 points in a 72-28 loss was a victory of sorts.
“There’s not many teams scoring more than 20 points on them,’’ said Moss-Kelley. “So for us to get that point total of 28 was good. We are getting better at fundamentals, executing our offense and hustling on defense.
"Our goal is to get the fourth spot in our section (Division I, Section III), and we would have a good chance at the state tournament. So we just have to keep working hard.’’
Junior guard-forward Vanessa Murphy led the Gators with 12 points and freshman forward Alana Kelley scored 11.
Desert Vista has plenty of talented players, most notably 6-foot-4 senior Kristine Anigwe. Not surprisingly, she was a major factor, scoring 24 points, grabbing rebounds right and left and serving as an intimidating defensive presence when Xavier attempted to get the ball down low.
Anigwe also hit a pair of 3-pointers, contributing to the seven long shots the Thunder made as a team. Alexis Barfield and Sabrina Haines chipped in with 11 points each.
Xavier, hampered by three players with significant injuries, got hit again when sophomore guard Brittany Robinson injured her left knee less than two minutes into the game. She had to be helped from the floor and it is unknown if she will be able to play again this season.
Xavier plays again on Wednesday (Jan. 14) with a road contest at Scottsdale Chaparral.