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.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Fleetwood helps stabilize Gator hoops

Xavier Prep’s basketball team will have three talented freshmen to the mix this coming winter, but the player the Gators might rely on the most will be senior guard-forward Elysia Fleetwood.

She has a great deal of experience, and it shows.

Another example came on Monday (June 10) in the Thunderbird (High) Summer League, when she scored a team-high 13 points to lead the XCP “A’’ team to a 50-33 victory over Scottsdale Saguaro.

The A team now is 2-2 after dropping its first two, and the Xavier “B’’ team is 1-3 after a 66-32 setback to Phoenix North Canyon on Monday.

Affectionately known to her coaches and teammates as “E,’’ Fleetwood is valuable as a scorer, rebounder and defender and maybe most of all, as a leader.

“E is looking really good for us,’’ said Xavier coach Jennifer Gillom. “She is setting a really great example. She works hard, and her teammates might find that it’s not easy to keep up with her.’’

Xavier, which has long relied on the 3-point shot, did so again against Saguaro, connecting for five of them, including one by Fleetwood.

Gillom said that Fleetwood and some of the other returnees are starting to resemble the group that played a key role in last season’s drive to the 6A Conference state championship game.

“You can just tell that they have that connection,’’ Gillom said. “That’s what I love about this team, particularly with the things they do defensively. And when the bench players come in, they are bringing a lot of energy.’’

One of Xavier’s top freshmen, Mia Davis, sat this one out with a minor injury. Another freshman inside player, Hannah Young, helped pick up some of the slack with aggressive play on defense and on the boards. And senior post Tanya Barakat joined the team for the first time this summer and scored six points.

“Hannah already has good defensive and reboundin skills,’’ Gillom said. “She will be working on her post moves and once she gets that down, she will be an even better player. Tanya played well last year in the second half of the season and she should be able to continue that. She knows what she has to do.’’

The A team will be back in action on Wednesday (June 12) with an 8 p.m. game against Goodyear Desert Edge in T-Bird’s auxiliary gym. The B team will take the floor again on Thursday (June 13) with a game against Phoenix Christian in the main gym at 7 p.m.

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