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.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Gators get their share of time in summer hoops

In basketball summer leagues, winning is a goal but not the only goal.

There is the aspect of giving as many players as much playing time as possible, trying to balance the minutes.

Xavier Prep coaches have been doing just that in the Thunderbird High summer league, and Tuesday’s (June 19) game against Scottsdale Chaparral was a prime example.

The Gators feature about 15 players and doing the math, means three waves shuttling in and out of the lineup.

Against Chaparral, the defending 5A Conference champion, the defending 6A runner-up Gators looked good at times, not as much at others. Some of the girls got limited experience on the varsity last season, others will be up from the junior varsity this winter, along with a key transfer.

Xavier had leads at various points but were unable to hold on, falling 43-38.

The Gators are 4-2 entering their “regular season’’ finale against Cave Creek Cactus Shadows on Thursday (4 p.m.). The focus then shifts to a playoff over the weekend. It will be a “one (loss) and done’’ format, and Xavier’s first game will be Saturday (June 23) against Glendale Cactus at 11 a.m.

Xavier scored the game’s first basket off a steal and layup by guard Paris Moore, a senior to be. By the time that XCP scored again, it trailed 13-4. Nine of Chaparral’s first 13 points came on 3-pointers.

The Gators managed to get back into it, pulling to within 19-17 at the half (games are played in 20-minute halves with a running clock).

Senior point guard Leilani McIntosh went to work early in the second half, scoring seven of Xavier’s nine points in a 9-0 run, with Moore scoring the other bucket on another steal.

The well nearly went dry for the Gators as Chaparral responded with a 17-2 run. Xavier made another challenge, pulling to within 39-35 with 1:34 on two free throws by McIntosh. Chaparral then converted four of its own foul shots to maintain its advantage.

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