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.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Gator hoops falls behind early, can't catch up

There are times when it is easier for a basketball team to forget a lopsided loss than a close defeat in the last few minutes.
No could haves, should haves or would haves. Just hit the delete button and move on.
That is what Xavier Prep’s Gators need to do after a 64-39 setback to host Chandler High on Friday night (Jan. 27).
Simply put, the Gators (18-5) never were in this one.
Chandler (17-6) led by six at the end of the first quarter, by twice that many at halftime and pulled away in the second half. The Wolves swept the two-game 6A Conference Premier Region series.
The Gators continue to miss three of their top players who are injured – forwards Alana Kelley and Montana Oltrogge and guard Brittany Robinson. Junior forward Katie Hassett gave a good effort with her rebounding, but she can only do so much – she needs help.
Sophomore guard Leilani McIntosh led the Gators with nine points, while Hassett and sophomore guard Paris Moore each had six.
Xavier will play its final road game of the regular season on Tuesday (Jan. 31) against region foe Chandler Hamilton, which defeated the Gators in their first meeting. Xavier’s final two games are at home, against Phoenix Pinnacle on Feb. 3 and Phoenix St. Mary’s on Feb. 7.

Soccer team gets 2nd seed at state

Xavier Prep’s soccer team will be the No. 2 seed in the 6A Conference state tournament that begins on Wednesday (Feb. 1). The Arizona Interscholastic Association announced the brackets on Friday (Jan. 27).
The Gators (10-2-3) will host a first-round match at 6 p.m. against Mesa Mountain View (11-6-1), the No. 15 seed.
Should Xavier defeat Mountain View, it would host a quarterfinal match on Feb. 4 against No. 10 Tucson or No. 7 Phoenix Pinnacle. That would be an afternoon match, likely at 2 p.m. Xavier battled Pinnacle to a 2-2 tie at Pinnacle on Jan. 13.
Xavier’s leaders are sophomore Kyla Ferry, junior Abby Hubbard, senior Quiqui Hita and junior goalkeeper Kinsey Ehmann. The latter helped produce a 2-0 shutout win over Chandler Basha in the regular-season finale on Jan. 24.
Here is the first-round schedule for the 6A Conference . . .
No. 16 Mesa Desert Ridge at No. 1 Chandler Hamilton, No. 9 Tempe Corona del Sol at No. 8 Gilbert Highland, No. 12 Tucson Rincon/University at No. 5 Phoenix Desert Vista, No. 13 Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor at No. 4 Scottsdale Desert Mountain, No. 14 Chandler at No. 3 Goodyear Millennium, No. 11 Gilbert at No. 6 Gilbert Perry, No. 10 Tucson at No. 7 Phoenix Pinnacle, No. 15 Mesa Mountain View at No. 2 Xavier Prep

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Defense-minded Gators put squeeze on Basha

The push for momentum toward the postseason has begun, and Xavier Prep’s basketball team would like to build as much of it as it can over the final four games of the regular season.
The Gators used one of their best defensive efforts of the season and a strong all-around game from junior forward Katie Hassett in a 38-30 victory over visiting Chandler Basha on Tuesday night (Jan. 24) at the Activity Center.
Xavier raised its overall record to 18-4. The team’s victory total matches that of the 2015-16 squad that finished 18-9.
“We’re just trying to piece together some wins,’’ said Xavier coach Stephen Moss. “It doesn’t matter if it’s by two points or 10 or more, it’s a win.’’
Xavier was the defensive aggressor from the opening tip. The Gators monitored the Bears more closely than a win at Basha on Jan. 6, rotated off screens and cut off many of the passing lanes.
“The defense was excellent, and that’s the way it needs to be every night,’’ Moss said.
Hassett, meanwhile was more active offensively and more aggressive with her rebounding.
She led the team with 17 points. Sophomores Addison Putnam and Leilani McIntosh each scored 9.
“Katie played great. She really stepped it up. That’s what it’s going to take for us as we continue,’’ Moss said.
The Gators now take to the road for their next two games, on Friday (Jan. 27) at Chandler High and on Jan. 31 at Chandler Hamilton. Both defeated XCP earlier this season.

XCP soccer gets a shutout, awaits tourney news

Xavier Prep’s soccer team finished its regular season with double-digit victories with a 2-0 win over host Chandler Basha on Tuesday night (Jan. 24).
Xavier (10-2-3) is unbeaten in Arizona (its two losses were in a California holiday tournament).
The Gators will wait until Friday afternoon (Jan. 27) to find out who their first-round opponent will be in the 6A Conference state tournament. The bracketing will be announced by the Arizona Interscholastic Association at 2 p.m. on its Web site,
Xavier likely will be the No. 2 seed and host a first-round match on Feb. 1. If the Gators win that one, they would host a quarterfinal game on Feb. 4.
As they have all season, sophomore Kyla Ferry and junior Abby Hubbard led the way for the Gators against Basha.
Ferry had a goal and an assist and Hubbard scored a goal. Senior Quiqui Hita provided an assist. And junior goalkeeper Kinsey Ehmann recorded the shutout.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Soccer tie has championship feel

Monday night’s (Jan. 23) 6A Conference soccer match between host Xavier Prep and Phoenix Desert Vista had a championship feel to it.
There was a scoreless first half, with a momentum-altering battle back and forth. Each team scored in the second half and then the shivering rain came.
Each touch of the ball became crucial, but neither team could find the back of the net.
It stayed that way through a pair of 10-minute overtimes and Xavier tied the defending state champion 1-1.
The Gators (9-2-3) will wrap up their regular season on Tuesday night (Jan. 24) with a match at Chandler Basha.
As of Tuesday morning, Xavier stood in second place in the 6A rankings determined by the Arizona Interscholastic Association. Chandler Hamilton was first, despite a 2-1 loss to the Gators on Jan. 10.
The AIA is expected to announce its state tournament soccer pairings this weekend. Xavier is in line for a first-round home match on Feb. 1 and would host another match on Feb. 4 if it can win its first one. The Gators likely will remain the No. 2 seed.
Xavier coach Barb Chura received good news when she learned that junior goalkeeper Kinsey Ehmann had been cleared to play against Desert Vista after missing the two previous games with an injury.
Ehmann was stellar, and the only hiccup came with 28:33 left in the second half when the Thunder’s Corey Zaremba was able to control a loose ball near the goal and send it home.
That put the pressure squarely on the Gators to try to even it up.
The equalizer came at the 21:16 mark when senior Natalie Duque scored off an assist from sophomore Kyla Ferry.
Ehmann made some crucial stops in the wet overtime period. Xavier attempted to earn the win with some shots of its own, but was unable to connect.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Gators' Shields in line for volleyball honor

The honors just keep on coming for Xavier Prep athletes.
Xavier’s Shannon Shields has been listed as one of 30 finalists for the 2016 National High School Sophomore of the Year. Shields is the only athlete chosen from Arizona. The national winner is due to be announced by the end of January.
Shields, a 5-foot-9 setter, was selected for various All-State teams at the conclusion of the season.
She had 1,077 assists (9.4 per set), 269 digs and 68 aces for the Gators, who reached the 6A Conference semifinals. And she helped the Gators reach the finals of the Durango Fall Classic in Las Vegas.
Congratulations, Shannon, and we’re looking for more great things to come for you !!