Xavier Prep’s basketball team used to be a hunter, attempting to defeat quality opponents despite the fact that the Gators’ talent rarely matched up.
Now the tables have been turned.
“New territory’’ is how coach Stephen Moss refers to the situation.
The Gators have gone from being the hunter to the hunted, and that’s a good thing.
They won their first seven games before an emotional two-point loss to Phoenix Desert Vista on Dec. 9.
“So what do you do after that happens?’’ Moss said. “Can you come back and take care of business? That’s what you have to do.’’
Xavier did just that on Monday night (Dec. 14) with a 67-44 victory over visiting Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor, running its record to 8-1 entering the prestigious Nike Tournament of Champions that begins Friday (Dec. 18) and continues through Dec. 22 at several sites, mostly in the southeast Valley.
Xavier will play in the Gold Division. According to the preliminary brackets, XCP will play its opening game on Friday at 5:30 p.m. against Windsor, Calif., at the Salvation Army KROC Center at 13th St. and Broadway in Phoenix (time and location finalized on Thursday, Dec. 17).
“That tournament will be a big challenge for us,’’ Moss said.
Senior inside player Vanessa Murphy is one of Xavier’s best players. Her excellence is not limited to playing under the basket. She can drive to the basket, shoot from short range and long range, as her three three-pointers against O’Connor will attest.
Murphy finished with 28 points. Freshman point guard Leilani McIntosh and sophomore forward Alana Kelley each scored 13. With about two minutes left in the third quarter, Kelley fell hard to the floor during a scramble for a rebound and walked off the court slowly after being attended to by head athletic trainer Laurie White.
Kelley landed on her back and some wondered if she had even hit her head on the floor, but Moss said that wasn’t the case. He is hopeful she will be available for the Nike.
“Teams are going to come in and try to beat us, just like we tried to do against other teams in the past,’’ Moss said. “That means teams are going to play physical, which they did tonight. We could have laid an egg, but fortunately we didn’t.’’