The Premier Region girls’ basketball race is expected to be one of the most competitive in the 6A Conference in 2016-17.
That is why that getting off to a good start was essential for Xavier Prep’s Gators in their region opener on Friday night (Dec. 16) against visiting Gilbert Perry.
Perry played Xavier tough through the first three quarters, but the Gators turned up the heat on defense in the fourth and went on to record a 48-35 victory. Perry scored just five points in the final period.
Xavier improved its record to 10-0 overall and 1-0 in region play, while Perry dropped to 5-6 and 0-2. The win should give the Gators a bit of momentum as they return to region action in January. Other Premier teams are Perry, Chandler Basha, Chandler High and Chandler Hamilton.
|Xavier point guard Leilani McIntosh concentrates on her free-throw form in closing seconds of victory over Gilbert Perry on Friday night (photos by Sr. Lynn Winsor).|
|Gators forward Montana Oltrogge (13) puts up a shot.|
|Addison Putnam (12) looks to find one of her teammates with a pass.|
The Gators will return to the court from Dec. 27-30 at the Red Mountain Holiday Classic at Red Mountain High in east Mesa. Xavier’s first game is Dec. 27 at 2 p.m. against Loyola (Ill.) Academy.
Teams in the tournament are Red Mountain, XCP, Loyola, Mesa Mountain View, Phoenix Desert Vista, Basha, Mesa Skyline, Mesa Desert Ridge, Phoenix Sierra Linda, Gilbert Campo Verde, Mission (Calif.) and Tucson Ironwood Ridge.
Xavier struggled with missed shots and an aggressive Perry defense in the first half, as coach Stephen Moss was trying to find a way to create some breathing room.
The Gators were on the verge of increasing their advantage in the third quarter. Junior Montana Oltrogge played strong defense against Perry ball-handler Olivia Vernon and sophomore Addison Putnam hit back-to-back three-pointers to close out the quarter.
Sophomore point guard Leilani McIntosh became a key factor in the fourth by using her quickness to play good defense and cut through the Perry defense when she had the ball. She scored nine of her team-high 12 points in the second half, including five free throws in the final 49 seconds.
Oltrogge finished with 9 points. Putnam and junior Payton Davis had 8, junior Katie Hassett had 6 and sophomore Paris Moore had 5.