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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Soccer wins opener; hoops still unbeaten

Xavier Prep’s soccer team kicked off its 2016-17 season with a strong performance on Tuesday night (Nov. 29), scoring four second-half goals to defeat host Gilbert High 4-1.
Junior Abby Hubbard and senior Quiqui Hita each had a goal and an assist for the Gators. Sophomore Kyla Ferry and senior Madie Amavilah also scored goals for XCP.
Xavier will play its home opener at 6 p.m. on Friday (Dec. 2) against Phoenix Horizon. It will be Horizon’s first match of the season.

Basketball – Xavier remained unbeaten at 6-0 with a 47-44 victory over visiting Phoenix Mountain Pointe on Tuesday night.
The Gators’ next game will be on Friday at Mesa Skyline. Tipoff is 7 p.m.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Soccer begins season with road match vs. Gilbert

Now it is the Xavier Prep soccer team’s turn to start its season.
The Gators, coached by Barb Chura and Rafael Rios, open the 2016-17 calendar on Tuesday (Nov. 29) with a match at Gilbert High. The contest will begin at 6 p.m.
Xavier, which finished 16-5 a year ago, will stage its home opener on Friday (Dec. 2) against Phoenix Horizon.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Gators win hoops tourney, move to 5-0

Xavier Prep’s basketball team met its match and then some in Saturday’s (Nov. 26) championship game of the Scorpion Shootout at Goodyear Desert Edge.
The Tucson High Badgers stayed with the Gators step for step and even exceeded the Gators’ hustle for much of the game.
But Xavier refused to fold and stepped up when it counted. The Gators overcame a key injury to guard Paris Moore and outscored Tucson 13-4 in the fourth quarter to pick up their second straight Shootout title with a 54-44 triumph.
Sophomore point guard Leilani McIntosh took tournament MVP honors and junior forward Katie Hassett was named to the all-tournament team.
Xavier (5-0) won four games in the tournament, including the title game and a 46-28 victory over Desert Edge in the semifinals earlier on Saturday.
The Gators will play host to Phoenix Mountain Pointe in their next game on Tuesday (Nov. 29) and hope the momentum from the tournament will carry over.
“When you lose a player, you need other players to step up and that’s what we did. That’s what you want going into a game like Mountain Pointe,’’ said Xavier coach Stephen Moss.
Moore, a sophomore, fell hard to the floor when fouled by a Tucson player on the way to the basket with 2:29 left in the third quarter. Moore stayed on the floor under the basket for a few minutes and was helped to the bench with what appeared to be an injury to her left shoulder. Her shoulder was wrapped with an ice bag after the game, and her status will continue to be evaluated.
It would take a mathematician to figure out how many times that Moore and McIntosh get knocked down in the course of a game. McIntosh appeared to be sore and exhausted after leading the team with 19 points.
Xavier led 41-40 going into the fourth quarter. McIntosh started it off by hitting her second 3-pointer of the game and sophomore Addison Putnam scored seven of her nine points down the stretch, including a pair of 3-pointers.
“Addison did a good job for us. She really stepped up when we needed her,’’ Moss said.
Junior forward Montana Oltrogge also had a strong game, particularly defensively in the fourth quarter to help put a lid on any Tucson uprising. Oltrogge scored eight points for the game and Moss said he thought she also should have been named to the all-tournament team.

Friday, November 25, 2016

XCP basketball can play well in any style

It was the Tale of Two Strategies for Xavier Prep’s basketball team in its first two games of the annual Scorpion Shootout at Goodyear Desert Edge on Friday (Nov. 25).
The Gators ran like the wind in their opening-round game and Peoria Sunrise Mountain couldn’t keep pace as Xavier recorded an 84-12 victory.
In the second game against Phoenix Maryvale, XCP had to be patient as the opponent stood and dribbled the ball for nearly the full eight-minute first quarter.
The Gators seemed like they weren’t sure what to do at first, holding a 2-0 lead going into the second quarter. Then they began to open things up and rolled to a 54-14 triumph.
That allowed Xavier to climb into the winner’s bracket on Saturday (Nov. 26). The team will face either Maricopa or host Desert Edge in a semifinal game at 4:30 p.m. If the Gators win, they will get the chance to win the tournament for the second year in a row with a 7:30 p.m. title game in the main gym. If the Gators lose, they would play a 7:30 p.m. game in the auxiliary gym for third place.
“That is what happens when you are the defending tournament champion. People try to throw you off any way they can,’’ Xavier coach Stephen Moss said of Maryvale’s early tactics. “We like to score at a high pace, run and gun, like we did in the first game. We run our offense off our defense. But there is a time when you have to adjust, and we were able to do that.’’
Xavier (3-0) had four players score in double figures against Sunrise Mountain. Point guard Leilani McIntosh totaled 29, forward Montana Oltrogge had 14, guard Paris Moore had 12 and forward Katie Hassett had 10.
McIntosh again led the Gators in the second game with 17 points. Wing player Addison Putnam was next in line with 9. Xavier struggled with its shooting in the first half or the point differential could have been more significant.
Not all the news was good for the Gators.
According to Moss, the team has lost junior forward Alana Kelley for seven to eight weeks due to a knee injury. That, he said, means McIntosh, Oltrogge and Hassett will have to ramp up their productivity to make up for the loss of Kelley.
Kelley was the Scorpion Shootout’s MVP last year, and went on to average 13.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Gators run away with win in hoops opener

Everywhere you looked on Monday (Nov. 21), Xavier Prep’s Gators were there, all over the floor.
Their shooting, rebounding, passing, stealing, running provided all the elements of a big basketball victory – just the way it should be.
The 84-12 season-opening triumph over visiting next-door neighbor Phoenix Central has Gators coach Stephen Moss and his players hoping for more good things down the road.
A 19-3 first-quarter run by XCP left little doubt as to what the game’s outcome would be. By the fourth quarter, there was a running clock (by rule, signifying a 30-point differential). The junior-varsity and freshman games also went to a running clock in Xavier victories.
The first game has its share of nerves, so could Moss get a true evaluation of his team with such a large point spread?
“You do and you don’t,’’ he said. “We didn’t have a (preseason) scrimmage, and we needed to get out on the floor.’’
Even without junior forward Alana Kelley (out with sore knee as a precaution), the Gators dominated.
Sophomore guards Leilani McIntosh and Paris Moore used their quickness to assert themselves on offense and defense. A pair of 6-foot-1 juniors, Montana Oltrogge and Katie Hassett, worked together under the basket.
“We played pretty well,’’ Moss said. “Katie and Montana should continue to get better inside. Paris is a lot faster than last year and Leilani is a lot stronger. We have two of the more potent guards around.’’
Xavier had five players in double figures. McIntosh led the way with 19 points, followed by Oltrogge (18), Moore (12), Addison Putnam (12) and Hassett (10). Brittany Robinson hit a pair of 3-point shots and Putnam added another.
The Gators will allow their Thanksgiving meal to digest and then hit the floor bright and early on Friday (Nov. 25) in the opening round of the Scorpion Classic at Desert Edge High in Goodyear.
Xavier will meet Peoria Sunrise Mountain at 9 a.m. and play a second game at noon against either Glendale Raymond S. Kellis or Phoenix Maryvale.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Xavier has ingredients for hoops success

Xavier Prep basketball fans, your wait is almost over.
A new season is about to begin, and the 2016-17 version of the Gators looks to be very competitive with a group of young players who already have a significant amount of experience.
Xavier tips off the season on Monday (Nov. 21), when next-door neighbor Phoenix Central visits the Activity Center. Tipoff is 7 p.m., and will follow earlier games for the junior varsity and freshmen.
The schedule then shifts to Goodyear, where the Gators will compete in the Scorpion Shootout at Desert Edge. Dates of that event are Nov. 25 and 26.
“I think we are going to have the best team that Xavier has had in many years,’’ said senior guard Brittany Robinson. “This is my fourth year on the varsity, and I can say that this will be the tightest (compatible), most competitive team we have had.’’
The Gators produced an 18-9 record a year ago, falling to Phoenix Horizon in the Division I state tournament. There is a sense that they will be more improved this year and above all, healthier.
The team lost 6-foot-2 senior Vanessa Murphy to graduation – she now is at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. She averaged 14.8 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.6 blocked shots, but Gators coach Stephen Moss says he has the players who will be able to make up for it.
Those players are two 6-1 juniors, Montana Oltrogge and Katie Hassett. Both have been slowed by knee injuries over their first two seasons, but now are healthy, Moss said.
The nucleus of the team will be 6-foot junior Alana Kelley, 5-6 sophomore Leilani McIntosh and 5-9 sophomore Paris Moore.
Kelley had a strong sophomore season when she averaged 13.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, made 51 percent of her field goals and 72 percent of her free throws. She was invited to national team tryouts in the summer. She will primarily be an inside player for XCP but might be called on to play some guard as she was in club ball, a spot where she might wind up in college.
McIntosh is the Gators’ sports car, zooming up and down the floor and getting involved in virtually every aspect of the game.
She entered her freshman season with a great deal of promise, but had to prove she belonged.
“It took a few games for me to get used to things,’’ she said. “Then I started to feel more comfortable.
“I know I’m supposed to be the playmaker. I need to remind everyone sometimes where they are supposed to be and to make good decisions. I need to step up and be more vocal.’’
She said the Gators have been working hard on defense in the early days of practice.
“If you play good defense, that helps make the transition to offense easier,’’ she said.
McIntosh averaged 10.1 points. 4.9 assists and 4.9 steals.
Moss said that because she does so many things on offense, that her defense often can be overlooked. She already is receiving attention from colleges.
“She is one of the best point guards in the state, if not the best,’’ Moss said.
Moore’s specialty is defense, where she averaged about 4 ½ steals last season. She has long arms that help her harass opponents, but the most important aspect for her, Moss said, is her quick feet.
“She can cut just about anybody off on defense. It’s those quick feet,’’ Moss said.
Robinson should be one of the first players off the bench, with perhaps an occasional start, depending how the Gators match up against their opponent. She knows her primary role is to hit three-pointers whenever possible.
“That’s just about all I practice,’’ she said.
According to Robinson, the team has a strong work ethic.
“We know how to work hard,’’ she said. “We are able to dig down deep. I think it will help us in close games, because we had a lot of close games last year and now we are more experienced.’’

Xavier Prep Gators
2016-17 varsity basketball roster
Head coach – Stephen Moss. Assistant – Jennifer Gillom.
Players – Payton Davis, Jr.; Katie Hassett, Jr.; Alana Kelley, Jr.; Mary Long, Jr.; M.J. Machen, Sr.; Leilani McIntosh, So.; Paris Moore, So.; Montana Oltrogge, Jr.; Addison Putnam, So.; Brittany Robinson, Sr.; Isabel Wirth, Jr.