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.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Gators take title in hoops tourney with 10th win in row

How did Xavier Prep basketball coach Jennifer Gillom assess her team’s 61-42 victory over host Mesa Red Mountain in Saturday’s (Dec. 30) championship game of the Red Mountain Invitational?

“It was exactly what we needed,’’ she said after the Gators won their fourth straight in the tournament and 10th in a row overall to put their record at 12-3.

“We were a bit conservative is some of the earlier games in the tournament, but today we put on our track suits and played the type of ball that we like to play.’’

Red Mountain (10-5), a 6A Conference school like Xavier, was a stronger opponent than some of the other teams in the tournament, showing more athleticism and defensive pressure. Like Xavier, the Mountain Lions had won their first three games of the tournament.
“Red Mountain is a good team. They are athletic, but they’re not as deep as some teams,’’ Gillom said.

“We executed well, used our press and got some steals that got us some extra points.’’

Junior point guard Leilani McIntosh and senior forward Montana Oltrogge had more limited roles as they nursed leg soreness, but they still managed to lead the Gators in scoring with 12 and 11 points, respectively.

“We needed them to rest some,’’ said Gillom, whose team’s next game is on Wednesday (Jan. 3) against Chandler Basha at the Activity Center.

Red Mountain did its best to stay within range of the Gators in the first half, but started to let it slip away early in the second half as Xavier went on a 14-5 run.

Oltrogge and junior guard Paris Moore were named to the All-Tournament Team. Moore had a big effort for the Gators on Saturday.

“Paris was great for us at both ends of the floor. She really stepped up when we needed her to,’’ Gillom said.

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