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.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Gators need to give more attention to details

 There are many things that go into making an individual or a team a success on the basketball floor.

Shooting, rebounding, passing, dribbling and defense, of course.

But you also have to pay attention to details, some of the little things, the rest of it usually won’t work.

That was the missing link for the Gators on Monday (Dec. 20) in the Nike Tournament of Champions loser’s side of the “John Anderson’’ bracket at Tempe McClintock High. They played much better than in their opening-game loss on Saturday (Dec. 18), but it still wasn’t quite good enough.

Facing Lubbock Cooper HS from Texas, XCP trailed by as many as nine points in the second quarter, but charged back to take a couple of 3-point leads and trailed by just one at the half.

Lubbock Cooper managed to get things back under control in the fourth and held on for a 64-61 victory.

Xavier, now 6-2 overall, plays on Tuesday (Dec. 21) at Phoenix Desert Vista in Ahwatukee and will meet Tucson Salpointe Catholic at 10:30 a.m. The teams will return to Desert Vista for their final tournament games on Wednesday (Dec. 22).

If Xavier defeats Salpointe, it would play on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. If Salpointe wins, Xavier will have to rise bright and early on Wednesday and play at 8 a.m.

After the team met with Coach Jennifer Gillom beneath a flight of stairs after its loss, Gillom made sure to remind the players about the attention to detail issue. Some if it was as simple as turning their head the wrong way at the wrong time. Other instances involved thinking that one of their teammates was going to make a cut one way, when it turned out to be another.

Sophomore guard-forward Sarah Miller led Xavier with 19 points, nine coming in a time span of about a minute and a half, including two 3-pointers while keeping the Gators close.

What limited Xavier’s options down the stretch was an injury to sophomore point guard Dom Nesland, who banged up her shoulder halfway through the fourth quarter and had it iced and wrapped afterward. Gillom wasn’t sure if Nesland would return for one or both remaining games in the tournament, but the possibility exists that she will use the next week to 10 days to rest before the Arizona part of the XCP schedule resumes in January.

As tough as it was to watch on Monday, Gillom said she was glad to have tough competition.

“That’s why we’re here,’’ she said. “I know this will help us improve and be ready as we move through the season.’’

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