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 10, 2021

Gators warm up after injury, then deep freeze hits

 An injury to a key player can rally the troops on the basketball court or have the opposite effect and freeze them.

Or both.

That is what happened to Xavier Prep’s Gators on Tuesday night (Feb. 9) against visiting Chandler Hamilton at the Activity Center.

Promising sophomore Mia Davis went down with a leg injury not even three minutes in the game and returned to the bench on crutches for the second half.

In the meantime, her Gator teammates gave a gallant effort, rallying from an early five-point deficit for a two-point lead at the half.

The second half was much different.

Hamilton (7-1), the defending 6A Conference state runner-up, froze the Gators (4-3) in their tracks.

The Huskies outplayed and outscored XCP in the second half 38-17 to win going away 66-47. The final deficit was similar to the one on Jan. 22, when Hamilton took a 57-37 win at home over the Gators.

Coach Jennifer Gillom and her assistants likely will be burning the midnight oil trying to figure out how to compensate for the loss of Davis, who can play virtually anywhere on the floor. It is uncertain if she will be sidelined, and if so, for how long.

The process will be expedited because Xavier has two more home games this week – on Thursday (Feb. 11) against Phoenix Pinnacle and on Friday (Feb. 12) against Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor.

“I thought we played hard in the first half,’’ Gillom said. “In the second half, they (Hamilton) came out determined. They worked hard under the basket, got a lot of 50-50 balls and scored a lot off of box-outs.’’

The Huskies were dominant with possession of the ball, and that meant more scoring opportunities.

Senior guards Graciela Roybal and Amyah Reaves were the primary recipients. Roybal scored 20 of her 22 points in the second half, including five three-pointers and three more points from the free-throw line when fouled on another long-range attempt.

Reaves scored 19 points, many on drives to the basket.

Senior Tori Saucedo and freshman Dominique Nesland led the Gators with 11 points apiece, and sophomore guard Sienna Cherwinski connected on a pair of three-pointers.



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