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, February 8, 2020

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.

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