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, December 27, 2019

Ganado hoops tough at the end vs. Xavier

There are a few reasons why the girls’ basketball team from Ganado High brings fans from across northeastern Arizona along on its road trips.

The Hornets are quick and fundamentally sound, as most of their counterparts are in that region, and they almost always put on a good show.

An example of all of that surfaced on Friday (Dec. 27) in Day 2 of the Lady Titan Winter Hoops Classic at Phoenix Arcadia.

Ganado fell into an early 10-2 hole, and dug itself out of trouble on a few other occasions to defeat Xavier Prep 55-53, scoring a basket to break a tie with four seconds remaining.

That knocked Xavier into the consolation round, where the Gators stopped Phoenix Thunderbird 53-39 later on Friday. Xavier began the tournament on Thursday (Dec. 26) with a 55-42 win over Flagstaff Coconino.

Xavier (10-3) will play two more consolation games on Saturday (Dec. 28), against Phoenix Horizon at 9 a.m. and Peoria Centennial at 12:45 p.m.

Xavier coach Jennifer Gillom was none too pleased about the team’s up-and-down performance against Ganado (12-1). She met with the players for nearly 30 minutes afterward.

She scolded the players for not hustling on the offensive boards, and for numerous defensive lapses.

“They (Ganado) wanted to win more than we did,’’ she said.

And the Gators paid little attention to what the coaches had told them before the match what some of Ganado’s offensive tendencies would be.

Ganado senior center Michelene Coleman highlighted the victory with 22 points, including eight of the Hornets’ 11 points during crunch time in the fourth quarter.

Even after what appeared to be a slight bit of improvement against Thunderbird (7-5), Gillom said, “I’m still not satisfied. We are not where we need to be at this point of the season.’’

After a big road win over Phoenix North just before the Christmas break, “I thought we were getting there. Hopefully in these next couple of games, we can get back on track.’’

The coach is concerned because the Gators begin play in the tough 6A Conference Premier Region on Jan. 14. Among the teams in that region are Chandler Hamilton, which defeated Xavier in last year’s state championship game, and Gilbert Perry.

Senior guard-forward Elysia Fleetwood was one of the few Xavier players who were on their game against Ganado. She had 21 points, 10 rebounds and 6 steals.

Against Thunderbird, 13 of Xavier’s 15 players scored, led by freshman point guard Sienna Cherwinski, who scored 11 points, including three 3-pointers.

Friday results

Xavier Prep 53, Thunderbird 39

Xavier scoring – Sienna Cherwinski 11, Channing Kehoe 7, Tori Saucedo 6, Sophie Sash 5, Elysia Fleetwood 4, Mia Davis 4, Hannah Young 4, Kailey Appel 3, Mackenzie Coder 2, Rachel Orr 2, Ireland Blim 2, Sophia Alameddin 2, Toni Garcia 1.

Ganado 53, Xavier Prep 51

Xavier scoring – Elysia Fleetwood 21, Mia Davis 8, Mackenzie Coder 6, Tori Saucedo 6, Sienna Cherwinski 4, Hannah Young 4, Kailey Appel 2.

Thursday results

Xavier Prep 55, Coconino 42

Xavier scoring – Elysia Fleetwood 13, Tori Saucedo 12, Mia Davis 9, Sienna Cherwinski 7, Hannah Young 5, Kailey Appel 5, Tanya Barakat 4.

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