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.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Hoops season comes to frustrating end

Xavier Prep basketball coach Stephen Moss’ reaction was what you might expect after his Gators were eliminated from the Division I state tournament 48-37 by visiting Phoenix Horizon on Friday night (Feb. 19).
“It was a bad way to end a good season,’’ he said.
There were some schools of thought that Horizon’s 54-44 win over the Gators on Jan. 8 bordered on a fluke.
As the 10th-seeded Huskies proved on Friday night, it was not a fluke at all. They were the aggressor from the opening tip, and the No. 7 Gators played from behind all night.
Xavier scored just three points in the first quarter and 13 for the entire first half, not a good sign.
“Thirteen points in the first half? That’s ridiculous,’’ said Moss, whose team’s point total in the game was 20 below what it had averaged in its first 26 games.
Horizon slowed the pace down considerably early on, but Moss said that wasn’t as much of a factor as the Gators’ inability to make shots.
“We just weren’t aggressive,’’ he said.
Horizon’s primary difference-makers were post player Katie Grant and point guard Leah Goodman, who scored 20 and 13 points, respectively.
Goodman’s total was about half of her 25 in the teams’ first meeting, but she still made her presence felt with her ball-handling and passing skills. Many of those passes were soft tosses inside to the 6-foot-4 Grant, and all she had to do on most occasions was turn and put the ball in the basket.
As Moss said, not many of the Gators’ shots went in. Vanessa Murphy was the only scorer in double figures (12) and her XCP career came to emotional end when the 6-2 senior fouled out with 1:11 left in the game.
At times, the game was quite physical. Several Xavier players hit the floor with few whistles. Xavier got tagged with 20 fouls (Montana Oltrogge also fouled out), while Horizon had only eight.
Moss continued to plead his case and with 11 seconds left in the game did so too strongly and was hit with a technical foul.
Moss was pleased by the team’s overall play this season. The Gators finished with 18 wins, compared to a combined 18 over their previous two seasons.
“We did a lot of good things this year,’’ he said.

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