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, November 24, 2017

Now that's more like it: Gators get two tourney wins

Xavier Prep’s basketball players needn’t have worried about how many calories they were taking in on Thanksgiving.

Because the Gators burned every one of them and then some on Friday (Nov. 24) in the (Gilbert) Highland holiday tournament.

Xavier began the day by routing Tucson Flowing Wells 88-28 and came back in the afternoon to roll past Phoenix Horizon 71-43. Both games were at Gilbert Mesquite.

The Gators, now with a 2-2 record, will play their final tournament game on Saturday (Nov. 25), this time at Highland. They will face Highland at noon.

Considering the way Xavier struggled in its first two tourney games, coach Jennifer Gillom was borderline ecstatic about Friday'’s turn of events.

“The difference for us was that we played hard at both ends of the court,’’ she said. “The girls are understanding how you win games, playing with intensity. I am really happy with what we’re doing.’’

The Gators worked the ball around well on offense, and that was ignited by tough, pressurized play on defense in both games.

On offense, Gillom said the Gators took care of the ball and had only seven turnovers against Horizon.

Xavier had 11 players score in its win over Flowing Wells. Senior forward Montana Oltrogge scored 28 points, 25 in the first half, and probably could have had at least 40. Senior forward Katie Hassett had 11 points and had a strong presence under the basket.

Hassett was even better in the second game. She scored six points and outhustled and outmuscled Horizon’s primary post player. Hassett kept her feet on the floor most of the way and kept a close watch on her opponent when they attempted to cut through the paint.

Oltrogge again was atop the scoring leaders with 23 points against Horizon, including three 3-point baskets. Junior Paris Rasheed-Moore had her best all-around game of the young season with strong defensive pressure that led to layups by her teammates, and 14 points on offense. Junior point guard Leilani McIntosh had 10.

“Katie did all the little things you need to do that sometimes might go unnoticed,’’ Gillom said. “And Paris was the real thing, too. Her presence really helped us.’’

After Saturday’s game, the Gators begin the “real’’ part of their schedule (power-points games) with a road contest at Phoenix Mountain Pointe in Ahwatukee. Xavier’s first home game of the season will be Dec. 1 against Mesa Skyline.

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