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, December 18, 2018

Saucedo's substantial effort lifts Gators

Basketball players from Xavier Prep have brought many smiles to the face of coach Jennifer Gillom, but few were as enjoyable for her as in Monday night’s (Dec. 17) game at Peoria Liberty.

Gillom, who tries to get as much playing time as possible for her bench players outside of the outstanding starting five, got a great effort from sophomore guard Victoria Saucedo.

Saucedo entered the game in the second quarter and helped the Gators outscore Liberty 20-7 for a 39-13 halftime lead, and Xavier went on to post a 63-22 victory to remain unbeaten at 13-0.

She scored 11 points (including a 3-pointer), all in the second quarter, grabbed six rebounds, handed out a pair of assists and had two steals – a productive night’s work.

For her efforts, Saucedo was named as one of two players of the game, along with senior point guard Leilani McIntosh.

“What “Tori’ did tonight will help all of our bench players realize that on any given night, this is capable of happening. We need to have players to be able to step up,’’ Gillom said.

That could prove to be beneficial for the Gators as they move toward the state tournament in February, the coach added.

Another big piece of the puzzle against Liberty was Xavier’s defense. The team was given an opportunity to rest up with no practice over the weekend (no practice on Saturday), and it showed.

“Our defense was all over the place and we needed that,’’ Gillom said. “Our rotations, our execution . . . we looked like a team.’’

The Gators also were accurate from long range, converting five 3-pointers. Senior Guard Addie Putnam had two, while Saucedo, junior guard-forward Elysia Fleetwood and senior forward Truly Helton each had one.

Xavier players will focus on exams along with their fellow classmates this week, then return to the practice floor on Friday (Dec. 21) and Saturday (Dec. 22). Assistant coach Patrick Mangosing will run those sessions, with Gillom visiting her mother for Christmas.

The Gators will then be among 27 teams to participate in the Lady Titan Winter Hoops Classic at Phoenix Arcadia from Dec. 27-29. Xavier will play three games over the first two days, against Mesa Westwood, Tucson Ironwood Ridge and Phoenix Desert Vista, with possibly two more on the final day.

Xavier Prep 63, Peoria Liberty 22

XCP – Addie Putnam 21, Victoria Saucedo 11, Leilani McIntosh 10, Paris Rasheed-Moore 7, Rachel Orr 4, Elysia Fleetwood 3, Truly Helton 3, Bianca Nava 2, Sophie Sash 2.

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