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.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Record of 4-1 in hoops tourney is bittersweet

There were no blaring horns, no confetti. No New Year’s Eve-type celebration.

Whatever Xavier Prep’s Gators had in mind after finishing 4-1 in the Lady Titan Winter Hoops Classic at Phoenix Arcadia over the weekend, it likely was more of a low-key deal.

Yes, they will remember the four wins – over Flagstaff Coconino, Phoenix Thunderbird, Phoenix Horizon and Peoria Centennial. But the one loss – to Ganado High – was a killer. It likely prevented them from getting a shot at the tournament title. That setback was due primarily to defensive difficulties.

Xavier is now 12-3 and will be working on defense, defense and more defense as it awaits its next two games – back-to-back home games on Jan. 7-8 against Peoria Liberty and Scottsdale Chaparral.

“In a way, that loss for us was good – it was a learning experience that showed us that if you don’t have a good defense, you cannot win very many games,’’ said Xavier coach Jennifer Gillom.

“It showed us that we have to play well at both ends of the floor, not just one end.’’

That also means boxing out underneath the basket, especially when the Gators are on offense, to give them a chance to put back missed shots.

Victories over Horizon and Centennial on Saturday heralded the “arrival’’ of freshman forward-post Mia Davis. The 6-foot-1 player, who had been inconsistent at best until that point, scored 20 points against Horizon (55-52) and 12 against Centennial (49-21).

“Mia is coming along,’’ Gillom said. “She is starting to become more patient and she is starting to see and learn what kind of player she is capable of becoming.’’

Horizon pushed the Gators to the limit earlier in the day. Xavier was able to withstand the pressure by scoring nine 3-point baskets – including five in a 24-22 fourth quarter. Davis had three 3-pointers in the game.

Gillom watched 12 of the 15 players on the roster score in the win over Centennial.

Saturday results

Xavier Prep 49, Centennial 21

Xavier scoring – Mia Davis 12, Elysia Fleetwood 8, Tori Saucedo 7, Channing Kehoe 7, Sienna Cherwinski 3, Rachel Orr 2, Sophia Alameddin 2, Mackenzie Coder 2, Lauren Etsitty 2, Hannah Young 2, Toni Garcia 1, Sophie Sash 1.

Xavier Prep 55, Horizon 52

Xavier scoring – Mia Davis 20, Tori Saucedo 10, Kailey Appel 9, Elysia Fleetwood 7, Sienna Cherwinski 5, Hannah Young 4.

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