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, June 9, 2021

XCP hoopsters survive challenge from Cesar Chavez

 Fresh off a third-place finish in the Lady X Tournament in Mesa over the weekend, the Xavier Prep basketball team returned to the Thunderbird Summer League in north Phoenix on Tuesday night (June 8) and picked up their third win there, 52-46 over Laveen Cesar Chavez.

Sophomore guard Sarah Miller scored eight of the Gators’ first 13 points and it appeared as if they were going to have an easier time of it, but Cesar Chavez’s scrappy team just wouldn’t go away. The Champions trailed by only two at halftime.

Xavier (3-0 here, 6-1 total for the summer) ramped up the defense to begin the second half, and sophomore guard Maureen (Mo) Ulrich was a big factor on offense with 10 of the team’s first 13 points, including a pair of three-pointers. Senior-to-be Toni Garcia kept the ball alive for the Gators about three or four times as it went airborne near the basket.

Cesar Chavez remained within striking distance the rest of the way but could not pull even.

CeCe Mlat, a 6-foot-6 incoming freshman, scored a big bucket (her first points as a Gator) with 5:50 left in regulation to put the lead at seven. Junior guard Sienna Cherwinski knocked down her second three-pointer of the night to make it 47-39.

Mlat appears to be gaining confidence and is developing more court awareness. That was evident when she tracked down a loose ball near the opposing bench to help Xavier retain possession at a crucial moment.

Sophomore guard Aniyah Roberson hit the front end of a one-and-one free-throw situation with 24.2 seconds left, and Cherwinski converted both ends of a one-and-one with 7.4 seconds left for the final margin.

Xavier returns to action on Thursday night (June 10) at 8 against Surprise Valley Vista, the defending 6A state champion which defeated the Gators in last year’s semifinals. However, the Monsoon have fallen on hard times, at least temporarily, after an 0-4 finish in the Lady X.

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