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, January 23, 2021

Gators look for light, hope in basketball

 As Xavier Prep coach Jennifer Gillom addressed her basketball players after the team’s game at Chandler Hamilton on Friday night (Jan. 22), an overzealous worker flipped the lights off, plunging the area behind the bleachers into near-complete darkness.

Sigh. It had been that kind of night for the Gators.

Facing their second top five team in as many games to start the season, the result for the Gators was pretty much the same as Wednesday night’s (Jan. 20) home opener against Surprise Valley Vista.

The game at Hamilton started about 90 minutes before its originally scheduled time, but the change hardly affected the Huskies (2-0), who rolled up a 17-point lead at halftime and went on to earn a 57-37 victory.

The light brightened somewhat in the second half. Gillom said her team played better, but despite that could not put much of a dent in its deficit.

For Gillom, a successful outcome begins with defense, and she had very little of that in the early going.

“These kids are so offense-minded, but it’s not about that,’’ Gillom said. “It’s defense that we need, and if we continue that (disparity), we are going to continue to get beat.’’

So what is the solution? Granted, the season has been condensed due to the Covid virus, and that means that Gillom’s young team will need to pick up the basics at a faster rate. There isn’t much time.

She told the players as much afterward, saying that she is going to monitor the situation very closely and alter the lineup if the players aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

One of the younger players who has shown flashes of consistency in both games has been freshman guard Sarah Miller, who led the team with eight points against Hamilton. Sophomore forward-guard Mia Davis also had a few prosperous moments with seven points.

Xavier will return to the road on Tuesday night (Jan. 26) with a game at Chandler Basha and be back at the Activity Center for its second home game of the season on Thursday night (Jan. 28) against Chandler High.

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