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, February 28, 2020

Xavier beach v-ball tops tough Basha in opener

Chandler Basha established a formidable presence in the 6A Conference state indoor volleyball tournament, and that was illustrated by an amazing comeback from an 0-2 deficit against rival Gilbert Perry to win the championship.

One of the people who showed notice was Xavier Prep beach volleyball coach Tim McHale.

“They are a great volleyball school, and their beach program is only getting better. They are light years from where they started,’’ he said.

That was evident in Friday’s (Feb. 28) season opener for both schools at Xavier’s Cavanaugh Courts.

Xavier won the match 4-1, but the scores in the five dual matches were close and could have gone either way at various points.

Xavier staged comebacks by its No. 3 team of Tori Burton and Lexi Yoza and its No. 1 team of Serena Turner and Abby Converse. Burton and Yoza won their third set 15-13 and Turner and Converse lost their third set by the same score.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t get the 5-0 final score, but give kudos to them (Basha),’’ McHale said.

He was pleased by the way his players, both varsity and some of the more inexperienced players at the JV level, handled themselves in accomplishing duties to help the afternoon and the match go smoothly.

“We ran matches on all four of our courts (including exhibitions on courts 3 and 4 -- the main focus usually is on the first two) and the girls handled themselves well and were vocal in their support,’’ McHale said. “Those are the kinds of things you look for in your entire program. It should only continue to help us.’’

McHale liked what he saw of the No. 2 team of Analy Carbine and Katie Anthony, and the No. 3 team of Burton and Yoza. The latter player was a member of Xavier’s indoor team in the fall.

“Analy got her team’s engine going and Lexi battled like crazy throughout her match,’’ he said.

He was not disappointed in the effort of his two No. 1’s. Turner used her height (6 feet 1) and long wingspan to block numerous shots by the Bears.

As impressive as the match was for the Gators, McHale knows there are a number of issues to be ironed out by the time they play again next Friday (March 6) at home against Anthem Boulder Creek.

Xavier Prep 4, Basha 1

No. 1 pair – Basha def. Abby Converse and Serena Turner, 21-13, 16-21, 15-13. No. 2 – Analy Carbine and Katie Anthony def. Basha, 21-13, 21-13. No. 3 – Tori Burton and Lexi Yoza def. Basha, 18-21, 21-15, 15-13. No. 4 – Zaira and Alexa Shiner def. Basha, 21-16, 21-11. No. 5 – Summer McCann and Angela Valentine def. Basha, 21-10, 21-14.

XCP lacrosse improves, but needs more

The scoreboard was a bit decsptive, but Xavier Prep’s club lacrosse team came up with a very strong effort in its home opener on Friday night (Feb. 28) against Scottsdale Chaparral.

The Gators overcame a 6-3 deficit against the defending state runner-up to tie it at 6-6 with 6:32 left in their match, but the Firebirds regained the lead at 7-6 with 5:46 left and held on for the 7-6 win.

Chaparral raised its record to 2-1 while Xavier, which dropped its season opener against Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep 11-5 on Tuesday night (Feb. 25), slipped to 0-2.

Diana Oduho, a new addition to the coaching staff this season along with holdovers Jen Nevatt and Clayton Zuba, ran the team in Nevatt’s absence.

“We are encouraged about the way we played but by no means are we satisfied,’’ Oduho said. “I told the players, “Yes, you only lost by one, but you should have beaten them.’ ’’

The Gators will get another chance to pick up that first win on Monday (March 2) with a home match against Gilbert Higley at 5:30 p.m.

Senior goalkeeper Tanya Barakat had one of her best games with Xavier by stopping 12 shots.

On offense, the Gators appeared to be a bit quicker and more aggressive than they were a year ago.

Nina Mackey and Keilani Hong each scored two goals for Xavier, while Bridget Wickers and Gigi Riviere each had one.

Gators continue to smack the softball around

The metal bats of the Xavier Prep’s softball team are so hot right now that they might melt.

After scoring 18 runs over two games in Thursday’s (Feb. 27) first two rounds of the Sunrise Mountain Invitational at Pioneer Community Park in Peoria, the Gators came back with another double-digit scoring effort in a 13-0 victory over Glendale Mountain Ridge.

XCP moves on to the single-elimination championship bracket on Saturday (Feb. 29). It will face Phoenix Greenway at 10 a.m. A win in that one would put the Gators in the semifinals at noon, likely against Phoenix Pinnacle and the winners of the semis go on to the title game at 2 p.m.

Xavier and Pinnacle held a scrimmage on Feb. 20 at Pinnacle, playing to a 2-2 tie in eight innings.

Season debut is successful for Xavier tennis

Xavier Prep’s team began its 2020 season on a strong note on Thursday (Feb. 27), defeating visiting Mesa Mountain View 9-0 at the Stark Tennis Center.

Singles winners for the Gators were Ryan Kershner, Erica Stutz, Lorelei Glidden, Emily Even, Katelyn Cowan and Vicki Chrostowski.

The Xavier JV also played well, defeating Mountain View 7-2.

XCP returns to action on Tuesday (March 3) with another home match against Gilbert Highland.

Xavier Prep 9, Mountain View 0


Ryan Kershner, X, def. Courtney Clark, MV, 6-0, 6-0; Erica Stutz, X, def. Nicole Jones, MV, 6-2, 6-1; Lorelei Glidden, X, def. Eden Porter, MV, 6-2, 6-1; Emily Even, X, def. Alexa Chock, MV, 6-3, 6-3; Katelyn Cowan, X, def. Madysen Young, MV, 6-3, 6-3; Vicki Chrostowski, X, def. Morgan Riggs, MV, 6-2, 6-0.


Kershner-Stutz, X, def. Clark-Porter, MV, 8-0; Glidden-Even, X, def. Jones-Chock, MV, 8-3; Cowan-Emilia Chrostowski, X, def. Young-Riggs, MV, 8-0.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Gator softball takes flight even when coach can't

Deryk Sexton had a big smile on his face, and there was good reason.

After Xavier Prep head softball coach Brad Downes’ flight from northern California to Arizona was canceled on Thursday morning (Feb. 27), Sexton, Downes’ top assistant, knew he would have to take over the Gators when they opened play in the 2020 season in the annual Sunrise Mountain tournament at Pioneer Community Park in Peoria.

And the Gators responded with a 13-2, 5-inning win over Anthem Boulder Creek and a 5-1 win over host Sunrise Mountain in the second game.

Someone mentioned to Sexton that he can have success, too.

“Yeah, that’s the first thing I’m going to tell him (Downes) when I text him,’’ Sexton said with a laugh.

An umpire who watched the win over Boulder Creek approached Sexton and told him that the Gators “look like they’re in midseason form.’’

“You can’t really get a much better report than that,’’ Sexton said.

Certainly not for the first couple of games.

Xavier will play again on Friday (Feb. 28) against Glendale Mountain Ridge at 4 p.m.

Tournament bracket play will begin on Saturday (Feb. 29) at 10 a.m. That portion of the tournament will be single elimination. Semifinals would be at noon, with the championship game at 2 p.m.

In the win over Boulder Creek, now coached by former long-time Phoenix Greenway coach Ed McQuade, Xavier scored eight runs in the fourth inning, all with two outs. The fourth inning was magic again against Sunrise Mountain. Xavier trailed early 1-0, tied it in the third inning and went on to score three times with two outs in the fourth to build a 4-1 lead.

“It was amazing what we were able to do with two outs,’’ Sexton said. “Even if you take the lead by scoring just one run with two outs, it can be demoralizing.’’

Two key players from last season, sophomore second baseman Meghan Schouten and junior catcher Macy Lee, led the Xavier offense.

Schouten had three hits in the first game and drove in five runs, including a two-run home run, and had another hit to drive in a run in the second game. Lee had three hits, including a pair of doubles, and drove in two runs in the first game and in the second, she had two hits, including a double, with two RBI.

And pitcher Riley Flynn picked up where she left off as a freshman, recording both wins and pitching all but one inning combined over both games. What was even more impressive was that she did all of that after missing practice and school time earlier in the week with illness. Freshman Zoe Zowine set Boulder Creek down in order in the fifth to wrap up the game that was shortened by the 10-run rule. The second game was shortened to 5 ½ innings due to a tournament time limit.

Sexton called the effort “typical Riley. We weren’t sure we were going to have her available, but she said that she could go, because I know she wanted to pitch in that second game.’’

One fact that might have gone unnoticed was the effort by junior Lana Kline in the first game. Each time that Lee reached base, Kline stepped in as a courtesy runner and stole three bases.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Lacrosse drops season opener to Notre Dame

Xavier Prep’s club lacrosse team had three preseason games under its belt, and on Tuesday night officially opened its 2020 regular season with a 11-5 loss at Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep.

Xavier will play its home opener at Petznick Field against Scottsdale Chaparral on Friday (Feb. 28) at 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

ASU's Newman Center to honor Sr. Lynn Winsor

Xavier Prep athletic director and golf co-head coach Sr. Lynn Winsor, BVM, CMAA, will add another honor to her list of many on March 14, when she will receive the Arizona State University Newman Center 2020 Distinguished ASU Alumnus.

The event will be held at the San-Tan Ford Club at Sun Devil Stadium. Pre-event festivities, including a silent auction, will begin at 5 p.m. The dinner and program will be at 7 p.m.

Congratulations, Sr. Lynn, a great example for all XCP students and faculty to follow!!

Xavier prime example of beach volleyball growth

The sport of beach volleyball continues to grow by leaps and bounds each year in Arizona, and the resulting task for high school coaches such as Xavier Prep’s Tim McHale certainly is not easy.

With increased interest comes increased ability, and McHale was trying to figure out which of the players trying out as part of his roster of 18-20 for the 2020 season, when the Gators will make a bid for their eighth Division I state championship.

“That’s the hard part, trying to sort things out,’’ McHale said.

He wants to keep the roster as balanced as possible, combining the older players with younger ones who are moving quickly up the ladder.

“You want to be strong for the current season, but you also need to be looking ahead to the future,’’ McHale said.

Xavier has six seniors who are capable of making an impact – Tori Burton, Bri Butkiewicz, Analy Carbine, Abby Converse, Grace Lincoln and Katelen Tellez.

The top team in the two-player format likely will be Converse and junior Serena Turner.

Converse, who played indoor last fall, is a bundle of energy, diving all over the sand. The 6-foot-1 Turner gives the Gators a forceful presence at the net. She, too, played indoor as a freshman and sophomore before stepping back from indoor last fall due to an injury and deciding to concentrate on beach, since she already has made a commitment to Stanford.

Other players to watch are junior Zaira Reyes and sophomore Alexa Shiner, who was the top setter on Xavier’s indoor team.

“All of our returning players are so selfless. They are concerned about the overall health of the program they helped to build,’’ McHale said.

McHale’s “list of usual suspects’’ again should be strong as they attempt to challenge Xavier.

On that list are defending state runner-up Gilbert Perry, Tempe Corona del Sol, Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthem Boulder Creek and Goodyear Millennium.

Xavier faced Millennium in a scrimmage on Monday (Feb. 24) at Xavier, and the Gators will meet Chandler Basha in the regular-season opener on Friday (Feb. 28) at Xavier.

No score was kept for the scrimmage. The Xavier teams that were first up on the top two Cavanaugh courts looked as if they are developing into duos capable of making an impact near the top of the team’s list – Converse and Turner and Burton and Carbine.

Xavier 2020 beach volleyball roster

Head coach – Tim McHale. Assistants – Susan Contreras, Anna Panagiotakopoulos.

Players -- Katie Anthony, So.; Tori Burton, Sr.; Bri Butkiewicz, Sr.; Analy Carbine, Sr.; Landree Coats, So.; Abby Converse, Sr.; Lila Freeland, Fr.; Adrienne Gordon, So.; Tessa Guthrie, Jr.; Grace Lincoln, Sr.; Summer McCann, Fr.; Zaira Reyes, Jr.; Alexa Shiner, So.; Gracie Smith, Fr.; Katelen Tellez, Sr.; Tiffany Tellez, So.; Mei Tsou, Fr.; Serena Turner, Jr.; Hannah Ulisch, So.; Angela Valentine, Fr.; Lexi Yoza, Fr.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Tennis champs poised for another strong season

The start of the 2020 tennis season is almost here, and Xavier Prep appears to have the necessary ingredients to produce a second straight Division I state championship and 20th overall.

Perhaps two of the most noteworthy story lines involve senior Emily Even and sophomore Ryan Kershner.

After sharing doubles state runner-up finishes with Jordan Craft in 2017 and Erica Stutz in 2018, Even returns for her final XCP season after sitting out 2019 with back issues. With the help of physical therapy and other treatments, Even is ready to go.

“I am back, and this is important for me,’’ said Even, one of four seniors with Lorelei Glidden, Stutz and McKenzie Virden.

Even said she still is managing some pain, but exercises in the morning help push her through.

“I have been hitting for a few months now, my serve and my forehand are much better and I’m looking forward to being in a competitive situation.’’

Xavier will open its season on Thurday (Feb. 26) with a home match at Stark Tennis Center against Mesa Mountain View.

It is uncertain whether Even will play singles and doubles from the get-go or whether she will wait to try more than one until she and coach Laurie Martin feel comfortable with the idea.

Even might not be paired with Stutz in doubles, and Stutz’s playing partner likely will be sophomore Ryan Kershner, who also is expected to be No. 1 in singles.

Of the doubles placements, Martin said, “There are a lot of different combinations.’’

She was impressed with Kershner’s play as a freshman last season, and said Kershner “continues to grow in her game.’’

Even would like nothing more than to win a state title before she heads off to college next year. She isn’t sure of the school yet, but would like to study computer engineering.

“It seems like yesterday when we first started out as freshmen. We (seniors) want to soak in our last season,’’ Even said.

Glidden is expected to go on and play collegiately at Hamilton in upstate New York, near Syracuse.

Public policy appears to be her main interest. Could that lead to a career in politics some day, perhaps winding up on a debate stage?

“Maybe. You never know,’’ she said with a laugh.

“Playing tennis here at Xavier has been great. It has helped me make a lot of friendships.

“I think I have gotten better overall, I think we all have. Winning state last year helped give us more confidence and we are all excited about it.’’

Among the teams expected to challenge the Gators this spring are Scottsdale Chaparral, Scottsdale Desert Mountain and Chandler Hamilton.

“There are some good teams out there, and that’s what makes it fun,’’ Martin said.

2020 Xavier Prep tennis

*Denotes varsity

(Subject to change)

Head coach – Laurie Martin. Assistants – Amy Gallo, Wendy McDaniel, Ford Oliver, Joy Rodey.

Seniors – *Emily Even, *Lorelei Glidden, *Erica Stutz, *McKenzie Virden.

Juniors – Caroline Brewer, *Emilia Chrostowski, Brooke Wiley.

Sophomores – *Victoria Chrostowski, Caroline Cobb, *Katelyn Cowan, Lily Gabler, Emily Lunt, *Ryan Kershner, Piper Kilb, Nataly Oviatt, Elena Titus, Halston Yerxa.

Freshmen – Riley Dowdall, Sophia Kleingartner, Alissen Orrego, Olivia Taylor, Maria Wolowiecki, *Nyla Vranic.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Gator softball is ahead of the curve in 2020

The time is almost here for the Xavier Prep softball team to play ball !!

The Gators enter the 2020 season after a very strong showing in 2019, when they finished 17-5 and were the No. 4 seed in the 6A Conference state tournament in Brad Downes’ first year as head coach.

Downes won’t shroud his team’s potential in ifs and maybes.

“We think we have a really good team,’’ he said.

Xavier opens the season next weekend (Feb. 27-29) in the annual Sunrise Mountain Tournament at Pioneer Park in Peoria. The Gators will play twice on Thursday, once on Friday and once or twice on Saturday.

The Gators field a balanced roster in terms of year in school. There are three seniors, four juniors, four sophomores and four freshmen.

In terms of experience, though, XCP is way ahead of the curve.

With a lineup loaded with underclassmen, Xavier put up some impressive numbers with the bat and rode the arm of then-freshman Riley Flynn, who won all of the team’s games.

“We’re a year older and stronger, and our hitters should be better,’’ Downes said.

Back for her sophomore year will be sophomore shortstop Bridget Donahey, who was one of the best at her position in Arizona, if not the country. She hit .581 with 13 home runs, 13 doubles, drove in 36 runs and stole 5 bases.

Donahey’s sister, Katie, now a senior center fielder, made her mark mainly on defense, but also hit .382 with 2 homers and 15 RBIs.

There also are junior catcher Macy Lee, who recently committed to Michigan State after hitting .397 with 2 homers and 21 RBIs, and sophomore second baseman Meghan Schouten, who hit .321 with 3 homers and is one of the team’s vocal leaders.

It won’t be easy for Flynn to surpass what she did last season, but she certainly is capable.

She struck out 144 batters in 130 1/3 innings. Her arm got a bit tired late in the season, but she should get more help in the circle this year from freshmen Zoe Zowine and Berdina Riggs.

Downes will be assisted by Deryk Sexton, Maddison Johnson and former Xavier player Mallory Belknap.

Downes said the players “have a familiarity now with each other and with the coaching staff. They know what to expect. We are out to have fun but we also want to be focused and disciplined.’’

Xavier Prep 2020 softball roster

Listed alphabetically

Jazmin Andrade, Jr., INF; Victoria Delgado, Sr., OF; Bridget Donahey, So., SS; Katie Donahey, Sr., OF; Riley Flynn, So., P-OF; Izzy Hycnar, Fr., 3B-1B; Sydney Johnson, Jr., OF-2B; Macy Lee, Jr., C-1B; Grace Lobocki, Fr., OF; Cameron Martin, Sr., OF; Berdina Riggs, Fr., P-1B; Meghan Schouten, So., 2B-OF; Elliot Smith, So., 1B-C-OF; Lina Vanderwey, Jr., OF-C; Zoe Zowine, Fr., P-OF.

Softball coach encouraged by scrimmage effort

Xavier Prep softball players walked onto the field at Phoenix Pinnacle for a scrimmage on Thursday (Feb. 20) and saw four banners hanging over the left-field fence, symbolizing Pinnacle’s three 6A state runner-up finishes and one state championship in 2018.

It is that type of excellence that the Gators are striving to reach.

And in the scrimmage, they played like the rising team they are, building a 2-0 lead and settling for a 2-2 tie after an extra eighth inning.

It was the same aggressive style that pushed the Gators to overcome two sluggish seasons with a strong 17-5 season in the spring of 2019.

“It was a good showing,’’ said second-year coach Brad Downes.

For the first three innings, the contest featured a scoreless pitching duel between Xavier sophomore Riley Flynn, who won all the team’s games last season, and the Pioneers’ Morgan Smith, who can be an intimidating presence in the circle.

Flynn’s arm should remain more fresh this season with the addition of freshmen Zoe Zowine and Berdina Riggs. Both also pitched with good results.

“Riley moved the ball around (the plate) well, and the other girls did well against a pretty strong lineup,’’ Downes said.

“The pitching is ahead of the pitching right now. Hitting in practice is not the same as in a game situation like this, but we are encouraged.’’

Sophomore second baseman Meghan Schouten got things going for the Gators in the fifth when she led off the inning with a walk, stole second and scored on a ringing double by junior catcher Macy Lee into the gap between left and center.

The second run came in the sixth when the Gators drew back-to-back, one-out walks and sophomore shortstop Bridget Donahey delivered with a run-scoring single to right-center.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Hoops rally comes too late, Gators eliminated

It was as if a lid were covering the Xavier Prep basket in the first three quarters of the team’s 6A Conference first-round game at a packed Mesa Westwood gym on Tuesday night (Feb. 18).

Very few shots went in, even free throws, and that can make it difficult to come back.

The Gators regrouped in the fourth quarter, scoring 23 points, four more than the first three quarters combined.

But it wasn’t enough as the seventh-seeded Warriors held on for a 47-42 victory over the 10th-seeded Gators.

Xavier finished its season at 18-11 under coach Jennifer Gillom, while Westwood improved to 26-4 and will play a quarterfinal game at No. 2 Phoenix Pinnacle on Thursday night (Feb. 20).

Xavier senior Elysia Fleetwood made a big push in the fourth quarter by scoring 7 of her team-high 13 points. It likely would have been 10 points in the period had not Fleetwood fouled out on a drive to the basket on a charging foul with 49.3 seconds left.

Fleetwood drove down the lane, put up a shot and it went in, just as she had less than a minute earlier. Had she completed the 3-point play as she did previously, the Westwood lead would have been trimmed to 46-43.

It was an emotional end to Fleetwood’s strong career in blue and white. When she realized it was she who was given the foul, tears began to fall as she covered her face with her hands.

Xavier had a successful season, considering it had only two seniors, one (Fleetwood) who got much playing time. That left the underclassmen, including three freshmen, to go through on the job training. Sometimes it appeared easy, other times not.

Xavier fans will see if those lessons will prove beneficial when the team reconvenes on the court at the Activity Center later this year.

6A first round

Westwood 47, Xavier Prep 42

Xavier scoring – Elysia Fleetwood 13, Mia Davis 8, Sienna Cherwinski 7, Lauren Etsitty 5, Tori Saucedo 3, Tanya Barakat 3, Toni Garcia 3.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Soccer season done, but players' spirit survives

The large, clear, storage-type bags were full of ice and stacked behind the Xavier Prep bench, where Xavier certified athletic trainer Laurie White had set up shop for the team’s 6A Conference first-round state tournament game at Chandler Basha on Saturday (Feb. 15).

White apparently would need most of them.

It had been that kind of game. Xavier knew the contest would be physical, just as on Jan. 24 when the teams first met at Basha and Basha won 2-0.

Both teams’ players tumbled into the dust of the yellowish turf from time to time. Some were fender-benders, others had a greater impact. White certainly was busy, dealing with various bumps and bruises and even a likely concussion.

It all came down to overtime. Basha’s Kallie White scored her second goal of the day with about five minutes left in the first of two 10-minute extra sessions, and the sixth-seeded Bears survived with a 2-1 victory over the No. 11 Gators.

A few of the Gators limped off the field afterward, some with faces flushed on the warm, sunny afternoon.

The most remarkable take-away from this was even though the battle scars were there, nobody could kill the Gators’ spirit. It had been the same way all winter, when the team finished with an extremely deceptive 7-9-1 record. That included a tie against one of the nation’s top teams (Scottsdale Chaparral) and overtime losses to a pair of other title contenders (Gilbert Perry and Chandler Hamilton).

White, a 5-foot-10 senior, used that height to her advantage on both of her goals for the Bears (14-6), who move on to face third-seeded Gilbert Highland in a quarterfinal match at Highland on Tuesday night (Feb. 18).

White’s first goal came with a little more than 10 minutes into the first half on a scramble in front of the goal following a corner kick. The decisive overtime goal came with about 5 minutes left in the first overtime when White guided the ball off another corner kick, but not to the back of the net. The referees ruled that the shot had crossed the plane of the goal.

“The guy (lead official) said it was in, so you have to try to get it back,’’ said Xavier coach Barb Chura.

Xavier’s goal, with 12:07 left in regulation, also was interesting.

Time was starting to run out on the Gators when junior Brooke Bream, one of her team’s tallest players and one who excels on throw-ins, tossed the ball from the right sideline, not quite at the corner, and the ball sailed over everyone in front of the goal and was touched by the Basha goalkeeper just inside the plane of the goal.

Early in the second overtime, Xavier had a good chance to tie it, but the Basha goalkeeper was able to grab a straight-away shot by freshman Eva Allen.

Of the game in general, Chura said, “It was not our kind of game (physical).

“We (Chura and long-time assistant Rafael Rios) are proud of this year’s team.  I hope they (players) are happy and that all of them come back next year.

“I think the teams we played this year really respected us and how we played. We had a lot of good, young players and our goalkeeper (junior Jaden Campbell) really developed late in the season.

“We have a lot of bright kids and what they do in the classroom transfers over to the field. Hopefully everybody is motivated by that.’’

Gators meet Westwood in hoops first round

Fresh off a 79-53 victory over Mesa Red Mountain in a 6A Conference “play-in’’ game on Thursday night (Feb. 13), Xavier Prep’s basketball team will hit the road for a first-round state tournament game at Mesa Westwood on Tuesday (Feb. 18). Tipoff is 7 p.m.

Xavier (18-10) is the No. 10 seed, and Westwood (23-4) is No. 7.
The winner of this game will advance to a Feb. 20 quarterfinal game against the winner of a first-round game between No. 15 Mesa High and No. 2 Phoenix Pinnacle.

Friday, February 14, 2020

XCP soccer gets another chance at Basha

After a solid 4-0 victory over visiting Yuma Cibola in Thursday night’s 6A Conference soccer “play-in’’ game, Xavier Prep advances to Saturday’s (Feb. 15) first round of the state tournament against host Chandler Basha.

Bring your shades. The 2 p.m. contest should be bright and sunny.

Xavier (7-8-1) is the No. 11 seed, just as it was a year ago after a win over Mesa Westwood in the play-in. Xavier fell to No. 6 seed Gilbert Highland in the first round.

Basha (13-6) is this year’s No. 6 seed. The Bears had a battle on their hands when they faced Xavier on Jan. 24 at Basha before escaping with a 2-0 victory.

Xavier has been extremely competitive all season, and the win over Cibola should give the Gators a boost.

Junior Kendall Warner broke the ice for Xavier against Cibola with the Gators’ only first-half goal. Scoring Xavier goals in the second half were sophomore Ansley Burns, senior Elizabeth Warren and senior Taylor Brown. Warren, in particular, played a key leadership role throughout.

This year’s top-seeded team is defending champion Scottsdale Chaparral.

6A Conference first-round soccer schedule

All games, 2 p.m.

(Seedings in parentheses)

Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor (16) at Scottsdale Chaparral (1), Mesa Desert Ridge (9) at Mesa Red Mountain (8), Peoria Liberty (12) at Phoenix Pinnacle (5), Phoenix Mountain Pointe (13), Phoenix Desert Vista (4), Surprise Shadow Ridge (14) at Gilbert Highland (3), Xavier Prep (11) at Chandler Basha (6), Queen Creek (10) at Chandler Hamilton (7), Tempe Corona del Sol (15) at Gilbert Perry (2).

Gator basketball ready to "go for it'

“We made it to state. Why not go for it?’’

That’s the assessment of Xavier Prep basketball coach Jennifer Gillom after the Gators’ 79-53 victory over visiting Mesa Red Mountain in a 6A Conference “play-in’’ game on Thursday night (Feb. 13).

The win allows Xavier (18-10) to advance to the first round of the state tournament on Tuesday (Feb. 18), a road game with the opponent to be announced on Saturday (Feb. 15). There are no more home games from here on out.

Xavier entered the play-in as the 10th overall seed, while Red Mountain (8-19) was 23rd. Xavier will play one of the top eight seeds in the opening round.

The Gators had consistency across the board against Red Mountain, “and it came at the right time. We don’t need to be on a rollercoaster now,’’ Gillom said.

The coach was pleased with the team’s balanced scoring as well as the defensive effort.

Eleven players scored, with senior guard-forward Elysia Fleetwood coming up with one of her best games of the season with a game-high 29 points. Freshman inside player Mia Davis was next with 13 points.

Xavier got away to a good start in the first quarter, with junior guard Channing Kehoe providing some scoring fuel with a pair of 3-point baskets.

Kehoe helped pick up the slack caused by the absence of junior guard Mackenzie Coder, who was on crutches after suffering a knee injury in te regular-season finale against defending state champion Chandler Hamilton on Tuesday night (Feb. 11). It is not known whether she will be sidelined again.

Fleetwood scored 10 points in the second quarter as the Gators had a firm grip on the lead.

Xavier had 10 3-point backets for the game, including one by former Red Mountain player Kailey Appel, who transferred to XCP after her freshman season in Mesa. Her father, Martin, coached the Mountain Lions for a number of years, including a state title season led by Kayla Pedersen, who went on to play collegiately at Stanford and in the WNBA.

Xavier Prep 79, Red Mountain 53

Xavier scoring – Elysia Fleetwood 29, Mia Davis 13, Tori Saucedo 8, Channing Kehoe 6, Toni Garcia 6, Sophie Sash 6, Kailey Appel 4, Rachel Orr 2, Ireland Blim 2, Lauren Etsitty 2, Tanya Barakat 1.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Hoops will host Red Mountain in "play-in' game

The Xavier Prep campus will be busy on Thursday night (Feb. 13).

The school’s soccer team will host a previously announced 6A Conference “play-in’’ game, and on Wednesday (Feb. 12), the basketball team received word that it, too, will host a play-in.

The soccer game will have Yuma Cibola paying a visit to Petznick Field. The basketball team (17-10) was the No. 10 in Arizona Interscholastic Association power points and will host a play-in game at the Activity Center against No. 23 Mesa Red Mountain (8-18).

Game times are 6 p.m. for soccer and 7 p.m. for basketball.

Play-in winners will advance to the first round of their respective state tournaments, soccer on Saturday (Feb. 15) and basketball on Tuesday (Feb. 18).

Go Gators !!

6A basketball play-in games

All games, Thursday at 7 p.m.

(Seedings in parentheses)

Laveen Cesar Chavez (24) at Phoenix Mountain Pointe (9), Mesa High (17) at Tucson High (16), Phoenix North (18) at Phoenix Desert Vista (13), Mesa Mountain View (21) at Yuma Cibola (12), Glendale Mountain Ridge (22) at Scottsdale Chaparral (11), Avondale Westview (20) at Gilbert Highland (13), Chandler Basha (19) at Anthem Boulder Creek (14), Mesa Red Mountain (23) at Xavier Prep (10).

Hamilton humbles Gators in hoops finale

The basketball regular season ended for Xavier Prep on Tuesday night (Feb. 11) with a 60-34 loss at Chandler Hamilton.

Now the Gators are looking ahead to a 6A Conference “play-in’’ game on Thursday night (Feb. 13), with the winner advancing to the first round of the state tournament next week.

Xavier (17-10) will host the play-in game at 7 p.m. against Mesa Red Mountain. Play-in games were announced Wednesday (Feb. 12).

Tuesday’s score was nearly identical to the one in the teams’ first meeting at Xavier on Jan. 24, when defending state champion Hamilton recorded a 60-29 triumph.

In the first quarter of Tuesday night’s game, Xavier appeared to come out with a more aggressive mindset.  The Gators led 9-6 on a 3-point basket by junior Kailey Appel with about 3 ½ minutes to play, but then . . .

Hamilton (20-6) scored 10 unanswered points to close out the quarter to gain control.

The Huskies began to utilize their pressure defense, which made it difficult to move the ball without turning it over.

Hamilton had a similar run late in the second quarter, led by guard Victoria Davis, one of three seniors honored on the school’s Senior Night. Davis, who recently became the sixth player in school history to surpass the 1,000-point mark in her career, led a balanced effort on the night with a team-leading 11 points.

Hamilton held Xavier to a combined 15 points in the second half to win going away.

Xavier coach Jennifer Gillom said “I thought we would come out and have a great game. But it showed that we need to handle pressure better. We are still lacking some of that leadership.

“We can try to learn from this and play better in the playoffs and next year, keep it moving.’’

Senior Elysia Fleetwood led the Gators with 12 points, and junior Tori Saucedo had 9.

Hamilton 60, Xavier Prep 34

Xavier scoring –Elysia Fleetwood 12, Tori Saucedo 9, Kailey Appel 3, Sophie Sash 3, Mia Davis 2, Sienna Cherwinski 2, Sophia Alameddin 2, Hannah Young 1.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Gator soccer hosts Cibola in "play-in'' game

The stage has been set, and Xavier Prep is the No. 11 team in 6A Conference soccer power points and will compete in a “play-in’’ game on Thursday night (Feb. 13) to determine which team will advance to the first round of the state tournament on Saturday (Feb. 15).

Xavier, at 6-8-1, will host Thursday’s game at Petznick Field against No. 22 Yuma Cibola (6-6-3).

The winner will face a road game against a higher seed on Saturday. The top eight seeds avoid the play-in.

Though its record might not indicate so, Xavier has been playing some of its most competitive soccer of the season recently, falling just short in double-overtime losses against highly regarded Gilbert Perry and Chandler Hamilton.

6A Conference play-in schedule

All games, Thursday at 6 p.m.

(Seedings in parentheses)

Glendale Mountain Ridge (24) at Mesa Desert Ridge (9), Tucson High (17) at Tempe Corona del Sol (16), Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor (18) at Anthem Boulder Creek (15), Avondale La Joya (21) at Peoria Liberty (12), Yuma Cibola (22) at Xavier Prep (11), Mesa Mountain View (20) at Phoenix Mountain Pointe (13), Chandler High (19) at Surprise Shadow Ridge (14), Mesa Dobson (23) at Queen Creek (10).

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Xavier soccer better than people might think

People say it all the time – their favorite sports team is a lot better than its record indicates.

In the case of Xavier Prep’s soccer team that is not fiction, it is fact.

The Gators have finished their 2019-20 regular season with a 6-8-1 record and in each of those losses, Xavier lost four games by two goals and four games by one goal. That indicates just how competitive the team is.

That was never more evident than this past week – when Xavier lost not one, but two – TWO – matches to Gilbert Perry and Chandler Hamilton by identical 1-0 scores in identical double overtimes, the latter on Friday (Feb. 7) in XCP’s Senior Night at Petznick Field.

The setback to Hamilton was particularly difficult to stomach – Hamilton scored with 1:52 left in the second overtime and Xavier could not answer. The Gators thought they had the contest won late in the contest when one of their shots hit the crossbar and skidded up and back over the goal.

“We should have won the game,’’ said Xavier coach Barb Chura.

“I feel for the girls. They left their heart and soul out there but did not get the result.’’

This was as exciting as a scoreless match can get – numerous scoring opportunities, great defense and goaltending. And the Gators were able to hold their own against a bigger, stronger team.

Xavier still has a chance to reach the 6A state tournament – but will have to do it the hard way.

The Gators, who were 12th in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s power points tabulation entering Friday’s play, will have to wait until Tuesday (Feb. 11) to learn their final slot. Since they are likely to finish between 9 and 16, they are expected to host a “play-in game’’ on Thursday (Feb. 13) against one of the teams that finish 17 through 24. Winners of the play-in games advance to the first round of state on Feb. 15.

“That’s the great thing about the state tournament – everybody starts out with the same record,’’ Chura said.

The coach is fond of her seniors who were honored and has enjoyed working with them and seeing them mature and raise their level of play during their time at Xavier.

“This program is a great program and they know they have been a part of that,’’ she said.

Of the team’s mindset after all of the close matches, she said, “Maybe all of this will help us with what’s ahead and we can play well.’’

Chandler's House of Payne not kind to Gators

The Premier Region might be one of the toughest in Arizona’s 6A Conference, and teams are picking up the pace as the basketball regular season reaches its conclusion on Tuesday (Feb. 11).

Xavier Prep’s Gators entered Chandler High’s House of Payne on Friday night (Feb. 7) and went home licking their wounds after a 71-46 region loss to the Wolves.

Chandler was motivated by its Senior Night festivities, just as Xavier had been on Tuesday night (Feb. 4) with a big win over Chandler Basha.

Xavier (17-9) kept it close against Chandler (20-7), trailing by only six points at halftime. But the Wolves started to pull away in the second half and never looked back.

Coach Jennifer Gillom’s Xavier squad will play its regular-season finale on Tuesday at Chandler Hamilton, the defending 6A state champion.

Xavier entered Friday’s game at No. 10 on the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s power points list but is expected to finish between 9 and 16 when the final rankings are released on Wednesday (Feb. 12).

One night later, on Thursday (Feb. 13), Xavier is expected to host a “play-in game’’ to determine which team will move on to the first round of the state tournament on Feb. 18. All winners of the eight play-in games will advance.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Converse pens top Arizona essay, on to nationals

Another honor for Xavier Prep senior athlete Abby Converse !!

The indoor and beach volleyball player has won the Arizona competition for the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Scholar Essay Contest.

The contest begins with female and male high school students filling out an application and submitting essays dealing with life principles earned in sports.

Converse’s essay now moves on into competition with four other essays from the NIAAA’s Section VII.

The seven section winners from around the country (seven essays each for females and males) will be submitted to a national review board.

Overall winners will be announced in the fall of 2020.

Said Xavier Athletic Director Sr. Lynn Winsor: “Xavier is proud of Abby, who is involved in so many Xavier Prep activities and athletics and wrote a beautiful essay.’’

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Freshman plays hoops with maturity of senior

Xavier Prep held its annual Senior Night tribute for basketball players, spiritline members and team managers on Tuesday (Feb. 4), but it was a freshman who decided to crash the party.

Point guard Sienna Cherwinski scored a team-high 20 points, including five 3-point baskets, and played solid defense to help the Gators defeat Chandler Basha 62-39 in the final home game of the regular season.

Xavier climbed to 17-8 with two 6A Premier Region road games left to play, on Friday night (Feb. 7) against Chandler High and on Feb. 11 against defending state champion Chandler Hamilton.

“The game was fantastic. We needed that,’’ said Xavier coach Jennifer Gillom. “Sienna did a great job. As a freshman, she is already showing her potential is greater than many older players around the state.’’

And as is usual during a game, the coach was looking for the right combination of players to get the team moving.

“You look around at the different players and find something that clicks,’’ Gillom said.

The five got things going in the third quarter, enabling Xavier to maintain a double-digit lead.

“They did it at both ends of the floor,’’ she said.

The five were Cherwinski, junior guards Mackenzie Coder, Tori Saucedo and Kailey Appel and senior inside player Tanya Barakat.

Cherwinski hit two of her 3-pointers in the third quarter.

Gillom said Gator fans might see that same combination in upcoming games.

“We’ll go out on the road and see what happens. We are happy right now. There is no pressure on us,’’ Gillom said.

Xavier Prep 62, Basha 39

Xavier scoring  Sienna Cherwinski 20, Elysia Fleetwood 15, Mia Davis 8, Mackenzie Coder 5, Tori Saucedo 4, Kailey Appel 3, Channing Kehoe 3, Hannah Young 2, Toni Garcia 2.

Perry edges competitive XCP soccer in 2 OT

Xavier Prep’s soccer team was competitive down to the wire with defending 6A Conference state runner-up Gilbert Perry on Tuesday night (Feb. 4), but Perry was able to escape with a 1-0 victory in double overtime at Perry.

Brenna Alderson gave Perry (14-2-2) the win with the late goal, off an assist by Kasie Vigil.

Junior Jaden Campbell was strong in goal for Xavier (6-7-1), collecting 20 saves.

The Gators will return home to Petznick Field on Friday night at 6 for their final match of the regular season against Chandler Hamilton. The contest will begin at 6 p.m.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Younger players provide spark for XCP soccer

The present looks promising for Xavier Prep’s soccer team. Fueled by a number of young players, particularly freshmen, the Gators have been very competitive all season, with all six of their losses coming by only one or two goals (2 and 4, respectively).

But the future looks bright as well, particularly if the younger players mature and improve.

A pair of freshmen played key roles on Friday night (Jan. 31) as the Gators dispatched visiting Chandler High 7-0, scoring twice in the first half and pulling away in the second.

Tessa Montanile scored twice and Eva Allen had one goal and both played good defense. Both display strong ball-handling skills.

Senior Elizabeth Warren also scored twice, while senior Kaitlyn Lauck and junior Kendall Warner each scored a goal. Junior Jaden Campbell and sophomore Delaney DeBusk combined to give XCP the shutout.

The win was important for the Gators as it evened their record at 6-6-1 and allowed them to pick up some valuable power points. Xavier currently is 10th in 6A, with the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s new rankings set to appear on Tuesday (Feb. 4).

Whether Xavier can win one or both of its final two games against Premier Region opponents Gilbert Perry (Tuesday at Perry) and Chandler Hamilton (Friday at Xavier) remains to be seen. The Gators would like to finish in the top eight and avoid having to compete in a “play-in’’ game in order to qualify for the state tournament.

“This is the time of year when you have to step up,’’ said Xavier coach Barb Chura. “Our energy was up tonight and we played a complete game. Our younger players played well and we are happy because we were able to get every player into the game.’’

Chura added that the team had a good week of practice and focused on offensive play, as long-time assistant coach Rafael Rios provided key input with that strategy.

“Our offense tonight showed the girls, “That’s why we do this in practice,’ ’’ Chura said.

From the opening moments of the contest, Xavier was beating Chandler to the ball most of the time.

Warner broke the ice with a goal in the first six minutes and Allen followed about 10 minutes later with a long, arching shot from the left side. It looked like it might have a chance when the ball left her foot, and sure enough, it landed in the back of the net.

The race was on in the second half. Montanile scored her first goal on a long shot from the right side. Warren scored her first goal off a deflection and Montanile was on the board again to make it 5-0 with 15:22 left in the match.

Lauck scored her goal with about 13 minutes left and Warren got her second with a little less than seven minutes left.

Xavier hoops better but not enough to win

Xavier Prep’s basketball team and Gilbert Perry met for the second time this season on Friday night (Jan. 31), and although the Gators played much better than they did in a lopsided loss to the Pumas on Jan. 15, Perry was able to escape with a 53-49 6A Premier Region victory.

Xavier’s overall record dipped to 16-8, while Perry improved to 15-7.

The Gators play their final home game of the regular season on Tuesday night (Feb. 4) against Chandler Basha. Their last two regular-season games will be on the road, on Feb. 7 at Chandler High and Feb. 11 at Chandler Hamilton.

Xavier was 11th in the most recent compilation of 6A power points, with the next list due to be released on Tuesday.