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.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Moment of truth arrives for XCP, Hamilton hoops

The time is just about here.

Xavier Prep’s basketball team has worked long and hard to get another opportunity to win the first 6A Conference state championship in the school’s history.

After falling to Surprise Valley Vista in last season’s title game, Xavier has posted a 26-4 record entering Tuesday night’s (Feb. 26) game against Premier Region rival Chandler Hamilton (25-5) at Arizona State University’s Wells Fargo Arena. Tipoff is 6 p.m.

Xavier is the No. 2 seed, Hamilton No. 1. The teams split their two-game regular season series. Xavier defeated the Huskies 49-40 on Jan. 18 at Hamilton, and Hamilton returned the favor on Feb. 5 with a 38-36 victory at Xavier.

The outcome likely will come down to the play of Xavier’s three senior co-captains – point guard Leilani McIntosh, guard Paris Rasheed-Moore and guard Addie Putnam. Hamilton counters with a balanced lineup led by junior guard Victoria Davis, who is the only Huskies player to score in double figures (11.1).

McIntosh has stepped up her game in the quarterfinals against Chandler High (21 points) and the semifinals (29 points), where the Gators dethroned two-time champion Surprise Valley Vista, 65-51.

Putnam is one of the state’s top 3-point shooters and will need to supplement McIntosh’s offensive production with that long-range accuracy.

Rasheed-Moore is the team’s fastest player and often will get the break going by rebounding the ball and dribbling the length of the floor before driving to the basket or passing the ball.

Xavier survived against Valley Vista despite being outrebounded 40-22, but will need to improve significantly on the glass to remain in this one.

In the first meeting with Hamilton, Xavier got 15 points from McIntosh, 12 from Rasheed-Moore and 10 from Putnam, all of hers in the second half.

In the second contest, the lead went back and forth before Hamilton built a seven-point lead with 3 ½ minutes left in the game. Xavier pulled within one at the 1:15 mark on a big 3-pointer but couldn’t get the win as Rasheed-Moore’s desperation 3-point attempt from just inside the half-court line fell short.


The team had a great crowd for last year’s championship game, and XCP officials are looking for a repeat. Xavier fans are urged to wear blue

Entry fee is $10 for adults and $5 for students with ID. Ticket sales and arena opening are at 5 p.m. at the East Gate for spectators and the North Gate for those with Arizona Interscholastic Association passes. There will be a clear bag policy for security purposes.

Fans can park in the Packard Structure at Packard and 6th Ave., or in the Stadium Structure, directly across from Sun Devil Stadium on Veterans Way.

Parking fee is $10.

For those who cannot attend, the game will be broadcast on the 1580-AM radio channel, along with 95.9 and 99.3 FM, according to the AIA.

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