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, January 7, 2016

XCP basketball still searching for consistency

Gaining maturity and confidence rarely happens overnight for a basketball team. It takes time.
The Xavier Prep Gators aren’t where they need to be yet, and use each game as a learning experience.
The latest lesson came on Wednesday night (Jan. 6), when they dropped a 43-36 road decision to Surprise Valley Vista.
The Gators (10-5) struggled from the opening tip, and tried to play catch-up the rest of the way. Valley Vista (12-5) scored the first 10 points before XCP scored with 3:02 left in the first quarter on a three-pointer by sophomore forward Alana Kelley.
Xavier trailed by 11 at the half and came close to pulling even with the Monsoon late in the third quarter. The 28-26 score was the closest that the Gators got.
The Gators were within 37-34 with 1:53 left in the game on a pair of free throws by freshman guard Paris Moore, but Valley Vista converted six of nine free throws down the stretch to remain in control.
Another freshman guard, Leilani McIntosh, was limited by foul trouble most of the night.
Xavier had difficulty finding the basket, particularly early on. Perhaps it was the surroundings/background.
The Gators had played Anthem Boulder Creek in a game on Monday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix. They had to get used to the unaccustomed background but managed to win. Both baskets at Valley Vista have large, wide-open spaces behind them, which could have contributed in part to the team’s lack of focus.
Xavier coach Stephen Moss wasn’t going to use that as an excuse.
“I just checked our shot chart and we must have missed 20 layups,’’ he said. “Four or five of them were breakaways. You can’t win a game like that.
“We generally played good defense, but we have to do more of the little things better, concentrate on the details. Those are what can get you over the top. I realize it is a maturation process, and we’re going to continue to work on it.’’
Kelley led the Gators with 13 points and senior forward Vanessa Murphy added 10.
Xavier will take the floor again on Friday night (Jan. 8) against host Phoenix Horizon.

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