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 6, 2021

Blue and white improving at both ends of court

 Xavier Prep’s young Gators continued to show improvement on Friday night (Feb. 5) with their fourth straight victory, 77-26 over visiting Tucson High.

But they will need to continue to move in that direction, especially with a very busy week coming up, when the team (4-2) will play three home games.

Xavier was able to work on some aspects of its approach within a game framework rather than a regular practice session, where the intensity isn’t as strong and you are playing against yourself.

Xavier built a 27-7 lead at the end of the first quarter against Tucson (2-1), but Gators coach Jennifer Gillom wanted to see more of a team concept.

“It is hard to complain about anything when you see those kinds of numbers, but we need to continue to work on things,’’ Gillom said. “We bounced back after that first period. We played team ball, executed both offensively and defensively.’’

The offensive part involved swinging the ball around the perimeter with passes that were crisp and had better touch.

“We were very patient and poised,’’ Gillom said.

“We need to get back to learning, and I’m seeing more and more improvement in a lot of our players at both ends of the court.’’

The Gators had nine players put points on the board, and tossed in eight three-pointers. The game was well in hand by the start of the fourth quarter. Xavier had a 51-point lead at that point, setting up the use of a running clock in the fourth.

Four players scored in double figures – freshman Dominique Nesland (20 points), sophomore Mia Davis and freshman Sarah Miller (12 each), and sophomore Sienna Cherwinski (11). Senior Tori Saucedo came up with 11 rebounds, including seven on offense.

Xavier will open the week on Tuesday (Feb. 9) with its second attempt at defeating Chandler Hamilton. In the first contest on Jan. 22, Hamilton had a 57-37 triumph at Hamilton.

Phoenix Pinnacle would be next on the ledger with a game on Thursday night (Feb. 11), with Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor completing the week on Friday night (Feb. 12).

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