The first half of Thursday’s (Jan. 14) basketball game against visiting Gilbert High indicated that Xavier Prep’s Gators were going to be in for a rough night.
Nothing the Gators did seemed to work. Most of their shots were way off. They were a step slow on defense, allowing the Tigers to use the pick and roll effectively. And their rebounding left much to be desired.
But the game has two halves and lo and behold, a different Xavier team took the floor for the second half.
The Gators began to play suffocating defense and held the Tigers to just one single point in the third quarter. Their shooting and ball movement gave them a much-needed boost.
They caught the Tigers, passed them and never looked back, earning a 60-49 victory.
It was XCP’s first sectional game in Division I, Section III and puts the Gators at 12-6 overall. Gilbert slipped to 11-7.
“The game was a tale of two halves,’’ said Xavier coach Stephen Moss. “The second half was how we play. We were doing a lot of things well. On defense, we were helping each other out and the offense was good, too. We look great when we are doing it.
“In the second half, it was one shot (by Gilbert) and one rebound (by Xavier). That’s the way it went.’’
Sophomore forward Montana Oltrogge, active again after sitting out nearly a year with a knee injury, scored all of her nine points in the second half, including seven in the key third quarter.
Freshman point guard Leilani McIntosh had her game in working order, scoring 18 points and dishing the ball off for some key assists.
Senior forward Vanessa Murphy and sophomore forward Alana Kelley continued to work the inside, finishing with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
And freshman guard Paris Moore chipped in with six points and some outstanding defense.
The Gators have two sectional games next week, at Gilbert Highland on Tuesday (Jan. 19) and a home contest against Gilbert Mesquite on Friday (Jan. 22).