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.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Road to basketball season begins in summer

The slate is pretty much clean for Xavier Prep basketball, and during the coming week and throughout most of June, coach Jennifer Gillom will get a chance to shape the 2019-20 edition of the Gators as they attempt to make another challenge for the 6A Conference state championship.

Xavier finished as 6A state runner-up in 2017-18 (to Surprise Valley Vista) and in 2018-19 (to Premier Region rival Chandler Hamilton).

Gillom will have to figure out how to replace three key players who graduated recently – guards Leilani McIntosh, Paris Rasheed-Moore and Addie Putnam.

So Gillom will mix and match lineups in the annual Thunderbird Summer League at Thunderbird High in north Phoenix (19th Ave. and Thunderbird).

Xavier has had a varsity team and a JV team in the tournament in past seasons but this year will have an “A” varsity team and a “B” varsity team. The A team will play eight games and the B team will play seven. Times of games vary between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. There are 31 teams entered.

The Gators have nine players who saw time with the varsity last season, but it is uncertain how many of them will be available for the summer league.

They are seniors-to-be Elysia Fleetwood and Tanya Barakat, juniors-to-be Mackenzie Coder, Rachel Orr, Victoria Saucedo, Sophie Sash and Kailey Appel, and sophomores-to-be Ellie Higgins and Toni Garcia.

The remainder of the rosters will be filled out with girls who played on the JV and/or freshman teams last season.

Gillom also has a position-coaching job with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, for whom she once played, so she likely will rely on assistants for help this summer. Last year’s assistants were Patrick Mangosing and Rikki Mulloy.

Xavier schedules in Thunderbird Summer League


Monday, June 3 – Cave Creek Cactus Shadows (main gym, 6 p.m.), Anthem Boulder Creek (auxiliary gym, 9 p.m.)

Thursday, June 6 – Phoenix Horizon (main, 4)

Monday, June 10 – Scottsdale Saguaro (main, 5)

Wednesday, June 12 – Goodyear Desert Edge (auxiliary, 8)

Monday, June 17 – Scottsdale Chaparral (main, 8)

Tuesday, June 18 – Glendale Cactus (main, 6)

Thursday, June 20 – Glendale Ironwood (main, 4)


Monday, June 3 – Phoenix Thunderbird Orange (main gym, 7 p.m.)

Wednesday, June 5 – Peoria Centennial (main, 9)

Thursday, June 6 – Phoenix North “B” (main, 8)

Monday, June 10 – Phoenix North Canyon (main, 7)

Thursday, June 13 – Phoenix Christian (main, 7)

Tuesday, June 18 – Scottsdale Notre Dame (main, 7)

Wednesday, June 19 – Phoenix Cortez (main, 4)


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