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.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Xavier sizzles in summer, captures hoops title

Xavier Prep basketball players were happy to add to their summer wardrobe on Monday night (June 25).

The Gators were presented T-shirts by coach Jennifer Gillom, signifying the team’s 48-39 victory over Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor for the Blue Bracket championship in the Thunderbird High summer league in north Phoenix.
Xavier Prep basketball coach Jennifer Gillom hands out championship T-shirts after a win over Sandra Day O'Connor in the Thunderbird High summer league (photo by Don Ketchum).
Xavier had earned a trip to the final earlier in the day with a 51-40 victory over Phoenix Pinnacle.

“They (Sandra Day O’Connor) were a scrappy team. They gave us a run for our money,’’ Gillom said.

While Xavier probably played better overall against Pinnacle, you could not discount the effort put into this game. The Gators did what they were supposed to do at the right time and kept Sandra Day O’Connor’s offense off balance for most of the game.

Senior guard Paris Moore had one of her best all-around games of the summer, finishing with 13 points and several steals and rebounds. With point guard Leilani McIntosh unavailable due to club-team commitments, Gillom kept urging Moore, a defensive specialist, to be more aggressive on offense.

“She was really attacking the basket,’’ Gillom said.

Moore drew numerous fouls on her journey through the lane.

McIntosh was on the bench for the finale but did not suit up, due to a tweaked ankle.

Another Gator who had missed weekend play because of club commitments was junior Elysia Fleetwood. She returned to action and brought an added presence in the rebounding department and provided another option with ball-handling if her teammates needed to get out of trouble.

Gillom was understandably happy after the win.

“I’ve been seeing a lot of great things out here, and I can only imagine what we will be capable of doing when we start practice and playing games for real,’’ she said. “This makes all of us very optimistic.

“Our entire roster . . . the girls really believe they can win.’’

Xavier’s JV team also participated in the league and fell to Sandra Day O’Connor 51-33 in the semifinals of the JV White Bracket. The Gators claimed third place.

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