There are no easy marks in the state basketball tournament. The 6A Conference brackets, announced by the Arizona Interscholastic Association on Sunday (Feb. 12), bear that out.
Xavier Prep’s Gators (20-6) enter the fray as the No. 7 seed and will play an opening-round game at home in the Activity Center on Tuesday (Feb. 14) against No. 10 Phoenix Mountain Pointe (21-9). Tipoff is 6:30 p.m.
The two teams played once during the regular season, way back on Nov. 29, with Xavier coming away with a 47-44 victory.
The Gators won their final two regular-season games, over Phoenix Pinnacle and Phoenix St. Mary’s. Mountain Pointe won its final game against Laveen Cesar Chavez and in the game before that suffered a narrow 49-46 loss to Gilbert High, which now enters the state tournament as the top seed.
Xavier has dealt with a few injuries that caused some of its players to miss some time, but appears to be healthy. Senior guard Brittany Robinson returned from concussion symptoms in the regular-season finale.
The Gators could receive a bonus in the tournament with the possible return of junior forward Alana Kelley, who had knee surgery and has been sidelined all season. Kelley warmed up with the team before the finale but did not play. Xavier coach Stephen Moss said her status for the tournament was uncertain as well as what her role might be if she did play.
Junior forward Montana Oltrogge is Xavier’s top scorer at around 14 points per game, with sophomore guard Leilani McIntosh averaging about 13. McIntosh also brings the ball up the court in pressure situations. Junior forward Katie Hassett is the team’s top rebounder, averaging about 6.5 per contest.
The Gators have been a good 3-point shooting team for much of the season, and that trend will need to continue.
The road certainly would not get any easier for the Gators if they should defeat Mountain Pointe.
Advancing would mean a likely quarterfinal contest at Chandler Hamilton on Friday (Feb. 17). Hamilton is the No. 2 seed and is the defending big-school champion. The Huskies play in the same region as Xavier – the Premier – and swept the two games between the teams, most recently on Jan. 31.
6A Conference first-round schedule
All games on Feb. 14 at 6:30 p.m.
(Seedings in parentheses)
Mesa (16) at Gilbert (1), Phoenix Desert Vista (9) at Gilbert Highland (8), Gilbert Perry (12) at Tucson (5), Scottsdale Desert Mountain (13) at Goodyear Millennium (4), Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor (14) at Surprise Valley Vista (3), Phoenix Horizon (11) at Chandler (6), Phoenix Mountain Pointe (10) at Xavier Prep (7), Mesa Red Mountain (15) at Chandler Hamilton (2).