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, November 19, 2015

Gators focus on hoops basics in scrimmage

No score was kept for Xavier Prep’s preseason scrimmage against visiting Chandler High on Wednesday night (Nov. 18) and it was just as well. The Gators weren’t really interested in that, anyway.
Coach Stephen Moss and his players were more interested in many aspects of the game – responding to pressure situations, handling the ball, being aggressive on the boards and finding the open shots. Moss was encouraged by his team’s effort.
Chandler has been known for its defensive prowess over the years and this scrimmage was no different. The Brenda Arbuckle-coached Wolves pretty much put on the press from the opening possession.
But that was what Moss wanted.
“We figured they would try to press the entire game, and that’s what they pretty much did,’’ Moss said. “It was good for us to work against that, because that (handling the ball against the press with few turnovers) was our Achilles’ heel last year. It was a little rough at first (against Chandler), but we kind of settled in after that.’’
Xavier had played some games in summer leagues and college team camps and had decent success, and Moss was looking forward to seeing what his team could do against a quality opponent like Chandler.
“I think Division I will be wide open this season, and hopefully we will be able to improve so we can reach the state tournament,’’ said Moss, whose team barely missed the tournament a year ago after he took over the team at mid-season.
Xavier was led by sophomore forward Alana Kelley and senior post/forward Vanessa Murphy. Freshman point guards Leilani Macintosh and Paris Rasheed-Moore showed flashes of promise.
Moss said he hopes to have sophomore inside players Katie Hassett and Montana Oltrogge available for the Nike Tournament just before the Christmas holiday after they sat out a large part of last season with knee injuries.
Xavier opens its season on Nov. 27 and 28 in the Desert Edge Tournament at Desert Edge High in Goodyear. The Gators play their first home game on Dec. 4 against Chandler Basha.

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