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.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Runners Carter, Weiss are All-Arizona

Catching up on Xavier sports notes:
The school's second-place finish in the recent Division I state cross-country meet and junior Sarah Carter’s chart-topping performance in the individual race have brought more postseason honors for XCP runners.
Carter was named to the Arizona Republic/azcentral sports All-Arizona team, as was Tessa Weiss, a senior. Weiss finished fourth in the individual competition.
New crew coach – Xavier has announced that Shannon Elford has been named coach of the crew (rowing) team. Elford is a Xavier graduate.
Soccer opens season – The XCP soccer team opens its season at home on Tuesday (Dec. 1) against Scottsdale Desert Mountain. Start time is 6 p.m., and the varsity game will follow a junior-varsity game at 4.
Xavier will have three more home games before playing its first road contest. Those games are Gilbert Campo Verde (Dec. 3), Phoenix Mountain Pointe (Dec. 4) and Chandler Hamilton (Dec. 8).
The Gators’ first road game is Dec. 14 at Gilbert High.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Basketball world buzzing over Gators' start

The buzz is beginning.
Buzz about what Xavier Prep’s basketball team is capable of doing, particularly if it continues to play as it did in the Scorpion Shootout over the weekend.
Xavier, which had dealt with injuries and frustration in past years in this tournament, this time walked away unscathed with the championship trophy with a 69-48 victory over Maricopa at Desert Edge High in Goodyear.
Xavier also defeated Mesa Skyline 54-23 earlier on Saturday (Nov. 28), and finished the tournament at 4-0, averaging a robust 66 points per game in the process.
The Gators had three players make the All-Tournament Team – MVP Alana Kelley, Vanessa Murphy and Leilani McIntosh.
Xavier coach Stephen Moss called Kelley, a sophomore, Murphy, a senior, and McIntosh, only a freshman, “a three-headed monster. They are very difficult to stop.’’
Kelley is a major force underneath the basket. Murphy, the team captain, works both the inside and can make three-pointers with regularity. McIntosh’s future appears to be limitless as she already has a lot of polish.
“I keep telling Alana, “You’re not a freshman any more. You’re going to have to step up and do it consistently,’ ’’ Moss said. “Vanessa is our best player and our captain. And Leilani – I can’t stop college coaches calling about her already and she’s only 14 years old.’’
Xavier now has momentum entering its home opener on Friday night (Dec. 4) against Chandler Basha.
Murphy led the way against Maricopa with 18 points. McIntosh had 14, despite not scoring in the first quarter, Kelley had 12 and Paris Moore, another freshman, had 10.
“Everybody contributed,’’ said Moss, who likes to use his entire roster as much as possible. “After having trouble in this tournament before, we were able to come back.
“It’s going to be a daunting season. We have to prove to people and to ourselves that we can be the team we want to be, but we have to do it game after game.’’
It wasn’t easy on Saturday. Xavier won its first game, then had to wait about five hours before playing for the title. The Gators weren’t really close to their homes and they couldn’t do much to relax, other than have a meal.
“That’s where our parents come in, helping to keep an eye on things. They have been very supportive of us,’’ Moss said.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Xavier basketball has big first day

A season-opening basketball tournament should be expected to have its share of hits and misses for high school teams.
The quality of opponents can be good to quite a bit less than that.
So how can you assess Xavier Prep’s opening performance on Friday (Nov. 27) in the first of the two-day Scorpion Shootout at Desert Edge in Goodyear?
The Gators simply were dominant in wins over Scottsdale Coronado (70-4 – yes, 70-4, no typo) and Glendale Copper Canyon (72-29) to advance to Saturday’s (Nov. 28) semifinals.
Xavier will face either Prescott or Mesa Skyline in a semifinal game on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Desert Edge. A semifinal win would put the Gators in the tournament championship game at 7:30 p.m. A semifinal loss would put them in the third-place contest at 6 p.m.
“For our program, it is a matter of comparison for each season,’’ said Xavier coach Stephen Moss. “Faced with the same situation last year, what would we have done? I don’t think it would be anything near what we did today (Friday).
“I think we are definitely ahead of where we were last year. We are not looking past anybody. In order for us to get the respect we want, we have to take care of the teams in front of us, one at a time.’’
Asked what he liked about the first day, Moss said, “We shared the ball very well. We gave up good shots to get great shots. The enthusiasm, particularly off the bench, is much, much better. The girls all get along very well off the court and that carries over to when they play for each other on the court.’’
Eleven of Xavier’s 15 players scored in the win over Copper Canyon. Three were in double figures – sophomore forward Alana Kelley (16 points), freshman point guard Leilani McIntosh (14) and senior forward-post Vanessa Murphy (10).
Kelley and Murphy were the usual workhorses under the basket and McIntosh is opening up a whole new world for everyone with her ball-handling skills, quickness and passing. She even put the ball behind her back on a drive to the basket, finishing it by putting the ball through the hoop. It was reminiscent of Dymond Simon, formerly of Xavier rival Phoenix St. Mary’s, who went on to play at Arizona State.
Another XCP freshman, guard-forward Paris Moore, is a solid defensive player with the potential to be an excellent offensive player.
Several other players are older, wiser and stronger. Included in that mix are senior guard Cydeni Carter, junior forward-post Tatum Cork, junior guard Brittany Robinson and senior point guard Sarah Perrin.
And watch for more improvement up and down the roster. Moss likes to keep his players as fresh as possible and giving them some quality playing time in a tournament such as this can only help down the road.
Xavier opens its home season on Dec. 4 against Chandler Basha. The freshman and junior-varsity teams will play before the varsity contest.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Xavier set to begin 2015-16 hoops season

Xavier Prep opens its 2015-16 basketball season on Friday (Nov. 27) with a pair of games in the Thanksgiving Shootout hosted by Desert Edge High in Goodyear.
The Gators, coached by Stephen Moss, will play at 9 a.m. against Scottsdale Coronado in Desert Edge’s auxiliary gym. Win or lose, Xavier would play again at 3 p.m. against the winner or loser of an earlier game between Phoenix North Pointe Prep and Glendale Copper Canyon.
Other teams in the tournament are Desert Edge, Mesa Skyline, Glendale Raymond S. Kellis, Prescott, Apache Junction, Yuma Gila Ridge, Avondale La Joya, Payson, Maricopa, Tucson Sabino, Tucson and Peoria Sunrise Mountain.
The tournament continues on Saturday (Nov. 28) at Desert Edge, with at least two more games slated for each team.

Monday, November 23, 2015

XCP runners earn spot in prestigious national event

Girls, keep your running shoes on! Xavier Prep’s cross-country season is not over after all.
The Gators, who finished second in Arizona’s Division I state meet competition, will be headed to Portland, Ore. On Dec. 5 for the Nike Cross Country Nationals at the Glendoveer Golf Course.
Xavier finished second at the Nike Southwest Regional on Saturday (Nov. 21) in Casa Grande, trailing only American Fork, Utah. Both teams earned automatic spots in the national event.
Division I individual state champion Sarah Carter was the top Xavier finisher in the 3-mile race with a time of 17:56.
Other XCP runners were Tessa Weiss (18:25), Jane Miller (18:42), Shannan Higgins (19:01), Helen Innes (19:03) and Caroline Liddy (19:27).
The Nike national meet will feature the top 22 teams in the country.
“Every girl ran their heart out,’’ said Xavier coach Dave Van Sickle of the regional. “It was a great team effort. This is a huge honor.''