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, November 27, 2019

Gators' hoops opener is open and shut case

Sometimes a basketball team will have successful practices leading up to the start of the season, but when the team plays a real game against a real opponent, the vibe can be quite different.

That reality took a swipe at Xavier Prep’s Gators in their season-opener against visiting Phoenix Mountain Pointe on Tuesday night (Nov. 26), the Pride coasting to a 59-40 victory.

The Gators dug themselves into a 15-3 hole at the close of the first quarter, and it was apparent that they would be in an uphill climb all evening.

Xavier got a bit closer in the second quarter, cutting the deficit to nine by halftime, but Mountain Pointe pulled away again in the third quarter.

The Gators showed glimpses of stability here and there, but had trouble with the Pride’s occasional press. Xavier’s shooting touch was chilly and rebounding was a challenge against its bigger opponent.

Xavier coach Jennifer Gillom admitted that “the first quarter hurt us.’’

XCP is a young team, no doubt about it. It has just two seniors, nine juniors, one sophomore and three freshmen.

“We have a lot of young players and we are still learning. I saw some things I liked out there. But we are fine,’’ Gillom said.

Freshman forward Mia Davis led Xavier with 10 points, including a 3-pointer. Senior guard-forward Elysia Fleetwood had 9, and junior point guard Mackenzie Coder had seven, all from the free-throw line.

Freshman guard Sienna Cherwinski found her shooting touch to hit a pair of long-range shots, and junior guard Victoria Saucedo showed good quickness and hustle.

After taking a Thanksgiving Day break, the Gators will head to the southwest Valley for the Scorpion Shootout on Friday (Nov. 29) and Saturday (Nov. 30) at Goodyear Desert Edge.

Xavier will play two games on Friday. The first is at 9 a.m. against Surprise Shadow Ridge and the second is at noon against the winner of an early game between Buckeye Verrado and Phoenix Trevor Browne.

The Gators will play two and possibly three more times on Saturday.

Mountain Pointe 59, Xavier Prep 40

Mountain Pointe – 15 16 12 16 – 59

Xavier Prep – 3 19 8 10 – 40

Xavier scoring – Mia Davis 10, Elysia Fleetwood 9, Mackenzie Coder 7, Sienna Cherwinski 6, Victoria Sucedo 6, Hannah Young 2.

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