The long road for Xavier’s basketball team officially came to an end on Sunday (Feb. 15).
The Gators had been holding out hope that they would qualify for the state tournament as one of the top 24 teams in Division I.
They had gotten as close as No. 25 before super-sectional play was held last week (they did not play in that tournament), but wound up No. 27 in the final rankings and tournament pairings announced by the Arizona Interscholastic Association on Sunday.
The state tournament begins on Wednesday (Feb. 18).
Xavier finished with a 10-16 overall record 5-4 mark in D-I, Section I and endured some obstacles along the way.
There were some coaching changes during the season. By the final game against Mesa Dobson, Stephen Moss-Kelley was in the lead chair and was assisted by Essence Townsend and consultant Jennifer Gillom, a former WNBA player who was the XCP head coach several years ago.
The Gators also were short-handed much of the time due to injuries suffered by freshman forwards Katie Hassett and Montana Oltrogge, sophomore guard Brittany Robinson and senior guard Lexi Carbine.
Carbine was one of three seniors on the team, along with guard Michaela Palladino and guard-forward Marifel Gabriel.
Put together all those factors and the girls played about as well as could be expected. They worked hard, played aggressively and were competitive in most of their games.
So what to expect for next season? With the injured young players hopefully returning to full health and the addition of a handful of players from a successful junior-varsity campaign, the Gators look to be even more competitive.