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.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Gators good, but they must stay focused

As Xavier Prep continues to build on its early season basketball record, the Gators are well aware that each opponent is going to give its utmost effort in trying to defeat them.
The schedule also can be a formidable foe.
After rolling past host Phoenix Pinnacle 71-42 on Monday night (Dec. 7), Xavier (6-0) has two more back-to-back games, on Tuesday (Dec. 8) at Peoria Liberty and at home against Phoenix Desert Vista on Wednesday (Dec. 9).
“Teams are not going to just lay down for you when you walk into the gym,’’ said Xavier coach Stephen Moss.
Early on Monday night, Pinnacle looked as if it might make it a close contest, trailing 10-9 in the first quarter.
That served as a wake-up call for the Gators.
Led by Alana Kelley’s four points, a steal and bucket by Paris Moore and a three-pointer by Vanessa Murphy, Xavier went on a 9-0 run to have a 10-point lead entering the second period.
Kelley had five more points, freshman point guard Leilani McIntosh scored six and Sarah Perrin and Murphy hit three-pointers as Xavier pulled away for a 42-17 halftime lead. The game was all but over by then, and the game went to a running clock in the fourth quarter as Xavier built a 30-point lead.
An early run such as Pinnacle’s “happens to every young team. You have to come out every night and play well in order to have success,’’ Moss said.
The coach again used most of his roster, as evidenced by the fact that 12 different players scored.
McIntosh and Murphy led the way with 17 points each, and Kelley had 11. Xavier didn’t need a GPS to find its shooting touch. The Gators finished with seven three-pointers.

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