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.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Basketball: "This is what we've got to do'

In the basketball playoffs, there’s not much time for waiting around to see what develops and then reacting. You have to make things happen, be aggressive, or you won’t hang around very long.

Xavier Prep followed that blueprint on Wednesday night (Feb. 13), being aggressive from the get-go and rolling to a 61-29 first-round victory over visiting Phoenix Desert Vista at the Activity Center.

The Gators (24-4), the 6A Conference’s second-seeded team, advance to Friday night’s (Feb. 15) quarterfinals at home against No. 10 Chandler High (15-14), one of Xavier’s rivals in the Premier Region. Xavier defeated Chandler twice during the regular season.

A win over Chandler would send the Gators to the semifinals at Arizona State’s Wells Fargo Arena at 3 p.m. on Feb. 21.

Xavier outscored No. 15 Desert Vista 20-6 in the first quarter and never looked back. Xavier defeated the Thunder once in the regular season and once in a holiday tournament at Phoenix Arcadia.

The Gators did not employ their trademark press, perhaps a bit of a surprise to the Thunder, but were very aggressive as the ball crossed the halfcourt line. They stole the ball on numerous occasions, many of those by senior guard Paris Rasheed-Moore when she stepped in front of passes.

“I think that gave us more energy,’’ said Xavier coach Jennifer Gillom.

Energy to focus more on the offense and put the ball in the basket from seemingly all areas of the floor. That included 3-point attempts. Xavier made six, half of those by senior point guard Leilani McIntosh, who finished with a team-high 21 points. Junior guard-forward Elysia Fleetwood was next with 16.

“We were more proactive, not reactive, tonight,’’ Gillom said. “If we play every night like we did tonight, that can make a huge difference. This is what we’ve got to do when we try to get the win on Friday.’’

McIntosh scored 10 of her points in the second quarter as Xavier outscored the Thunder 19-3. She had a streak of sorts by hitting a pair of treys to close out the first half and another trey for the Gators’ first points of the second half.

Xavier scored just five points in the fourth, including a 3-pointer by sophomore Kailey Appel, under a running clock because the lead was larger than 30 points.

6A Conference basketball first round

Wednesday’ s results

(Seeding in parentheses)

Chandler Hamilton (1) 72, Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor (16) 42; Phoenix Mountain Pointe (8) 63, Mesa Red Mountain (9) 42; Gilbert Highland (5) 48, Tucson High (12) 38; Phoenix Pinnacle (4) 67, Anthem Boulder Creek (13) 42; Gilbert Perry (3) 63, Mesa Westwood (14) 29; Surprise Valley Vista (6) 94, Yuma Cibola (11) 26; Chandler High (10) 60, Scottsdale Chaparral (7) 45; Xavier Prep (2) 61, Phoenix Desert Vista (15) 29.

6A Conference quarterfinals

All games on Friday at 7 p.m.

Phoenix Mountain Pointe at Chandler Hamilton, Gilbert Highland at Phoenix Pinnacle, Surprise Valley Vista at Gilbert Perry, Chandler High at Xavier Prep.

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