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.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Gator hoops looking for ways to turn it around

 The final days of December will offer Xavier Prep’s basketball team an opportunity to heal from injuries and reflect on its struggle in the recent Nike Tournament of Champions, try to figure out what it can do better in 2022.

The Gators won six regular-season games before entering the Nike and losing all four of their games.

The latest setback came on Wednesday (Dec. 22), 65-64 to Arizona 5A Conference team Goodyear Millennium at Phoenix Desert Vista in Ahwatukee.

Despite the loss, the Xavier coaches were pleased with the way the team fought back, showed improvement and a good team mentality throughout the game.

Sophomore guard-forward Sarah Miller led Xavier with 18 points and 6 rebounds.

“She was a constant,’’ said head coach Jennifer Gillom.

Juniors Gabi Trbovic (forward) and Sienna Cherwinski (guard) and sophomore guard Maureen (Mo) Ulrich “really stepped up,’’ according to Gillom, “and showed great poise.’’

Trbovic scored 14 points, including 4 of 4 shooting, and grabbed 5 rebounds. Cherwinski scored 15 points and had a pair of blocked shots. And Ulrich had 11 points, 5 assists and 8 rebounds.

With sophomore guard Dom Nesland out for the second straight game with an injury, Ulrich played the point again impressed the coaches with her drives to the basket and dishing the ball to open teammates.

Sophomore Gosi Alilonu played strong defense and came up with seven rebounds.

About halfway through the second quarter, senior forward Toni Garcia suffered an ankle injury and did not return. Her availability is uncertain moving forward.

Xavier returns to game action on Jan. 4 with a home contest against Anthem Boulder Creek.

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