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, June 4, 2019

XCP hoops teams try to find summer cure

Xavier Prep’s first day of play for its two teams in the Thunderbird (High) Summer League was not what the Gators had hoped for, but they are not going to let it turn their world upside down.

The XCP “A’’ team, featuring most of the returnees from its second straight 6A Conference state runner-up finish and a handful of promising newcomers, lost a pair of two-point games (to Cave Creek Cactus Shadows 30-28 and Anthem Boulder Creek 37-35) on Monday (June 3).

The “B’’ team, consisting of younger players from last season’s freshman and junior-varsity teams, suffered a lop-sided loss to the Thunderbird Orange team (68-26).

Xavier head coach Jennifer Gillom, who was guiding the A team, liked a lot of what she saw in the game against Cactus Shadows.

“That (Cactus Shadows) was a good team out there,’’ she said. “We played everybody (she often substituted five players at a time). You obviously like to win, but it’s not about winning right now. It’s about learning how to play together – learning about each other.’’

If there was one glaring issue in this one, it was that the Gators often were caught flat-footed as Cactus Shadows used its aggressive rebounding to get second and third chances to score. The Falcons also seemed to control things when Xavier shots were off the mark at the other end.

“When we get back to practice, you can be sure we will be working on boxing out (under the basket),’’ she said.

The bright spot was the play of three incoming freshmen –- Mia Davis, Hannah Young and Sienna Cherwinski.

The 6-foot-1 Davis, in particular, created a buzz. She scored 17 points against Cactus Shadows, including three 3-pointers, and had the court presence of an older player.

Her offense might pick up some of the slack created by the graduation of three guards.

The Gators’ current crop of guards, at least those who started, have some work to do, but that is to be expected for the first game of the summer.

The three main guards were junior-to-be Mackenzie Coder, junior Victoria Saucedo and junior Kailey Appel, along with insiders Davis and senior Elysia Fleetwood, who can switch between guard and forward.

The B team returns to action on Wednesday (June 5) against Peoria Centennial in the main gym at 9 p.m. The A team will play next on Thursday (June 6) against Phoenix Horizon at 4 p.m. in the main gym, and the B team also will play on Thursday against the Phoenix North “B’’ team in the main gym at 8 p.m.

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