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, 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.

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