Thank goodness that 2016 has come to an end.
It did not finish the way that Xavier Prep’s basketball team wanted. But now the Gators can have a fresh start in 2017.
Xavier battled Phoenix Sierra Linda on Friday night (Dec. 30) in the final game of the Red Mountain Holiday Classic at Red Mountain High in east Mesa. Both teams were unbeaten.
The game went as one might expect, as both teams had leads at various points.
It was so close that the game went overtime. But Sierra Linda dominated in that extra four minutes and earned a 49-43 victory. Sierra Linda improved to 12-0, while Xavier fell to 13-1.
The Gators will get back on the bike quickly on Wednesday (Jan. 4), when they travel to face Chandler Basha.
The win by Sierra Linda, a 5A Conference team, was no fluke. The Bulldogs recently had defeated a top 6A Conference team, Surprise Valley Vista, and feature one of the state’s best point guards, Jenay Bojorquez. The senior already has committed to play at San Diego State.
Bojorquez came as advertised, setting up teammates with several no-look passes. She sat out for about seven minutes in the second half with her fourth foul. But she came back with 2:25 left in regulation and went on to make a key steal with 7.4 seconds left, but the Bulldogs could not convert as Janae Gonzales (19 points) missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Nothing went right for the Gators in overtime, when they were left flat-footed. They were held scoreless until the final few seconds, when junior forward Montana Oltrogge scored her 16th and 17th points.
In the first half, it appeared that Sierra Linda might run away from XCP. They had a 20-11 lead before Xavier cut it to 25-22 at the intermission.
The Gators finally pulled even at 30 on a bucket by Oltrogge with 13 minutes left in regulation. She would score two more baskets in a row and junior Payton Davis would hit a 3-pointer to put Xavier up 37-34.
Sierra Linda did not score in the final 5:51 and Xavier got free throws from Oltrogge and sophomore point guard Leilani McIntosh for its final points.
Oltrogge had a strong game despite falling to the floor in front of the Sierra Linda bench with 14:26 left in the first half. She stayed down for a few moments, slowly got to her feet and returned after missing only about 4 ½ minutes.
Other scorers for Xavier were sophomore guard Paris Moore (11), Davis (9) and McIntosh (6).
Oltrogge and McIntosh were named to the All-Tournament Team, and Bojorquez was the tournament’s MVP. She had 9 points against Xavier.