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.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Gators stumble twice in Arcadia hoops event

It was a day that every coach dreads, when the inevitable occurs, because very few basketball teams run the table and win every single game in a season.

After winning its first 16 games of the season, Xavier Prep came to a screeching halt on Saturday (Dec. 29) with not just one, but two losses in the Lady Titan Winter Hoops Classic at Phoenix Arcadia, doubling the disappointment for the Gators.

Xavier began the day with a 49-23 blowout at the hands of Phoenix Shadow Mountain, which went on to defeat Phoenix Desert Vista for the Gold Bracket championship later in the evening.

The loss meant Xavier would have to face Phoenix Horizon in the Gold third-place game. Xavier trailed by eight at halftime, used a big third quarter to get back into it, but faded down the stretch as Horizon went on a 9-3 run to close it out for a 67-61 triumph.

“I don’t know where the team went. We were in a brain fog. We were doing stuff on offense and defense that we haven’t done all season,’’ said Xavier coach Jennifer Gillom. “It’s a good thing they have about a week to get ready for the next game (Jan. 8 at Gilbert Perry).

 “I know they are tired. They’ve played a lot of games lately. We will just continue to try to do the things that we do.’’

Xavier entered the tournament as the No. 1 team on the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s power points list for 6A Conference teams, and is expected to remain there at least for now because power points are not affected by tournaments.

Shadow Mountain is 4A and Horizon 5A.

“We want to try to make sure we are still No. 1,’’ said Gillom, whose team finished as state runner-up last season.

Xavier was never really in it against Shadow Mountain, which had the advantage in size and athleticism.

Xavier scored just two points in the second quarter and only seven in the third.

The Gators were missing senior point guard Leilani McIntosh, who did not play in either game. Her ball-handling and quickness on defense were missed.

Senior guard Addie Putnam helped pick up the slack in the second game, scoring 16 points in the third quarter on the way to a 33-point finish. Senior guard Paris Rasheed-Moore scored 18.

Alyssa Alvarez, a senior guard, carried the load for Horizon (17-2) with 32 points, including five 3-pointers.

“We’re going to have to learn to deal with this adversity,’’ Gillom said.

Will that happen?

The New Year will be here soon enough, and we will find out.

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