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 5, 2017

Gators stumble out of gate but rally to win

For much of the first half against host Chandler Basha on Wednesday night (Jan. 4), Xavier Prep’s biggest basketball obstacle was itself. The Gators could not do much correctly, trailing by eight points early in the second quarter.
But XCP went on a 21-7 run the rest of the way and maintained its advantage in the second half on the way to a 71-55 victory in 6A Conference Premier Region play.
Xavier, which maintained its No. 4 spot in’s 6A rankings despite a loss to Phoenix Sierra Linda last week, improved to 14-1 overall and 2-0 in region play. Basha fell to 7-8 and 0-2.
The Gators will face another challenge when they return home on Friday (Jan. 6) against a good Chandler High team. Chandler is 8-5 and 1-1 and had a couple of assistant coaches in the stands to monitor the Basha game.
Xavier will be featuring a roster that is versatile and interchangeable. Coach Stephen Moss was pleased that the entire roster played against Basha, due in part to some foul trouble, but that it was good for everyone to get the experience.
“These are the types of games, ones on the road like this, that we didn’t always win in the past,’’ Moss said. “To be at an elite level, you have to be able to win these, just like you do at home games. We won and everybody played, so that’s a good deal.’’
He also was encouraged by the way the Gators came back from their deficit.
“We didn’t get too far down, and we found a way to bounce back,’’ he said. “We were able to get into a rhythm and find balance.’’
The Gators had five players score in double figures – Montana Oltrogge (16 points), Leilani McIntosh (15), Paris Moore (13), Brittany Robinson (13) and Katie Hassett (11). Xavier hit six 3-point shots, four by Robinson and one each by McIntosh and Payton Davis.
Six points each from Oltrogge and McIntosh and additional defensive pressure allowed Xavier to get back into the game in the second quarter.
Xavier managed to hold a 48-43 lead going into the fourth quarter despite being whistled for eight fouls and Basha NONE. The foul situation balanced out somewhat in the fourth when Basha was forced to take more chances to get the ball after its deficit hit double figures.

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