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, January 6, 2021

No. 3 XCP hoops has it tough from the start

 Do you really want to find out how good your basketball team is? There is no sense in waiting. Might as well start at the beginning of the season.

That is exactly what Xavier Prep’s Gators will do when the twisting, turning dust devil of a schedule gets under way on Jan. 20.

On Wednesday (Jan. 6), the azcentral media outlet announced its annual preseason rankings, and Xavier was put in the No. 3 spot in the 6A Conference.

And as luck would have it, XCP will play its first two games against No. 1 Surprise Valley Vista on Jan 20 at home and Jan. 22 at No. 2 Chandler Hamilton. Xavier will play five top 10 teams, including Hamilton twice, in its first seven games (the full schedule is 15).

Valley Vista is the defending state champion and has won the title in three of the last four years.

The other marquee games are No. 5 Gilbert Perry (Feb. 2), No. 7 Tucson High (Feb. 7). Perry again will be the opponent for the regular-season finale on March 5.

There could be a few more changes before the season gets under way.

Varsity head coach Jennifer Gillom expects her team will be ready to go. The team has been practicing for about a month now with nearly two more weeks to go.

Players to watch for the Gators are sophomore point guard Sienna Cherwinski, sophomore forward-post Mia Davis, senior guard Tori Saucedo, sophomore forward Hannah Young and freshman guards Sarah Miller and Dominique Nesland. Xavier has taken its preparation time to develop solid depth.’s 6A CONFERENCE PRESEASON TOP 10

1 – Surprise Valley Vista

2 – Chandler Hamilton

3 – Phoenix Xavier Prep

4 – Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor

5 – Gilbert Perry

6 – Mesa Westwood

7 – Tucson High

8 – Mesa Dobson

9 – Phoenix Mountain Pointe

10 – Phoenix Desert Vista


All games, 7 p.m.

(Subject to change)

Jan. 20 – Surprise Valley Vista

Jan. 22 -- @ Chandler Hamilton

Jan. 26 -- @ Chandler Basha

Jan. 28 – Chandler High

Feb. 2 -- @ Gilbert Perry

Feb. 5 – Tucson High

Feb. 9 – Chandler Hamilton

Feb. 10 -- @ Phoenix North

Feb. 11 – Phoenix Pinnacle

Feb. 12 – Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor

Feb. 16 -- @ Scottsdale Chaparral

Feb. 23 -- @ Anthem Boulder Creek

Feb. 26 – Chandler Basha

March 2 -- @ Chandler High

March 5 – Gilbert Perry

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