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 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.

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