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, February 5, 2015

Gators can see hoops playoffs -- can they get there?

It’s still touch and go whether Xavier Prep will be one of the teams from Division I, Section III in next week’s sectional basketball tournament.
The Gators did their part on Wednesday night (Feb. 4) with a 56-24 victory over Phoenix Pinnacle in Xavier’s final regular-season home game.
The win put Xavier’s overall record at 10-15 and sectional record at 5-3. The Gators have one regular-season game remaining on Friday night (Feb. 6) with a road contest against powerful Mesa Dobson, listed at No. 2 in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Division I power points entering Thursday's play. Dobson has only one loss.
Xavier, meanwhile, was No. 26.
Even if the Gators do not qualify for the sectional tournament, coach Stephen Moss-Kelley said they still can reach the state tournament by finishing 24th or better in power points.
“We’re going to go out there and give Dobson a good game. You never know what can happen. We still can pick up some valuable power points,’’ Moss-Kelley said. “I think we are still in good shape. We are still in the playoff conversation.’’
The Gators have overcome a lot of obstacles this season – coaching changes and injuries – but still remain competitive.
“That’s because of our seniors,’’ Moss-Kelley said. “I am proud of them. They have great attitude and leadership and our young kids are fortunate to have them to rely on.’’
Freshman forward Alana Kelley led the scoring parade for the Gators with 22 points, including 13 of the team’s 24 points in the third quarter. By rule, the fourth quarter was played with a running clock because Xavier held a 33-point lead entering the quarter.
Junior forward-guard Vanessa Murphy also was effective, scoring 14 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.

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