Bio

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 AIA365.com, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Xavier hoops did not let this one get away

 Xavier Prep’s basketball team let what would have been a high-profile victory to slip through its fingers on Wednesday night (Jan. 19).

On Friday (Jan. 21), two nights after the overtime setback to Surprise Valley Vista, the Gators refused to allow that to happen again against visiting 6A Premier Region rival Chandler Hamilton.

Xavier was on top of its game from the start and had all phases working to earn a 47-28 victory.

Xavier raised its record to 10-5 while Hamilton, last year’s 6A state runner-up, slipped to 14-5.

“We needed that,’’ said Xavier coach Jennifer Gillom.

Though Xavier led for most of its game against Valley Vista, Gillom said the defending champs never gave up and by the end, her team was spent.

“It was emotionally draining,’’ she said.

But Hamilton always has been a formidable opponent, and Gillom knew her team would face another tough game.

“We usually play to the level of the other team,’’ she said. “We came out and played well. We played the way we like to play, the way we need to play if we are to get to the (state) final, where we feel we should be.’’

About four minutes into the first quarter, Hamilton was placed in an unfortunate spot when sophomore forward Savanna Creal drove along the baseline and went down with a significant amount of pain in her left ankle. She was helped off the floor by Xavier athletic trainer Laurie White and Hamilton coach Trevor Neider and did not return.

Hamilton then took its first and only lead before Xavier reassumed control.

Sophomore guard-forward Sarah Miller and sophomore point guard Dom Nesland continued to lead the Xavier offense. Miller scored 24 points and Nesland had 12.

Xavier also had a solid effort on defense and with its rebounding.

Senior forward Toni Garcia had 6 points and eight rebounds and another sophomore guard, Maureen Ulrich, continued her development into the team’s top rebounder, with 12.

Xavier will be back in the Activity Center on Monday (Jan. 24) for another Premier Region game, this time against Chandler Basha. Tip-off is 7 p.m.


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