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, June 24, 2015

Hoops camp good indicator of raised level of play

Basketball at Xavier Prep looks to be in good shape, both for the near future and a little farther down the road.
In regard to the Gators team that will play in 2015-16, the team has played well in summer leagues, going 6-0 in a camp at Arizona State and 4-2 in a camp at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.
On Wednesday night (June 24), the Gators will play in the semifinals of a tournament at Thunderbird High in Phoenix. If they win that one, the championship game will be played on Thursday night (June 25). Tip-off times are 8 p.m. on Wednesday and 9 p.m. on Thursday.
“We’re on schedule (with player development) and I think we’ll be ready to go when the season starts,’’ said Stephen Moss, who shed the interim coach tag in the offseason and will be the full-time leader in 2015-16.
Xavier will be energized by the return of senior-to-be forward-post Vanessa Murphy, who seems to be getting more and more college scholarship offers by the day, sophomore sensation Alana Kelley and a pair of incoming freshmen who should see a significant amount of playing time, one as a point guard and the other as a shooting guard.
And the Gators expect to be bolstered by the return of sophomores Montana Oltrogge and Katie Hassett, who went down with knee injuries about halfway through last season.
This week, Moss and assistant coach Laura Forbes are overseeing a group of young players at a camp at XCP. About two dozen are in attendance, from fifth grade on up through incoming freshmen.
Moss raved about the job that Forbes has done with the campers, teaching them good fundamentals in just a short period of time. Some current Xavier players also are involved in the process.
“It’s a learning environment and everyone is seeing how that translates into the program,’’ Moss said.
“They’re going to need to learn what the program is all about. We want them to be great students, capable of doing two or three hours of homework once school starts, in addition to working hard on the court. I think most of them will be ready to accept the challenge.’’

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