If there ever was a time when Xavier Prep basketball coach Jennifer Gillom wanted her players to listen to her, this was it.
During the second-seeded Gators’ 6A Conference quarterfinal game against visiting No. 10 Phoenix Pinnacle on Tuesday night (Feb. 22), she implored the team’s defensive players with shouts of, “Hands up! Ball! Ball!’’
Xavier had been struggling a bit, and she wanted the defense to come to the rescue, as it had done so many times before.
The Gators complied, and the team managed to hold on for a 52-39 victory to earn a spot in Thursday night’s (Feb. 24) semifinals.
Xavier (19-5) will return to the Activity Center for a game against No. 11 Gilbert Perry (22-9) at 7:30 p.m. The game has been pushed back by 30 minutes from a normal starting time of 7 p.m., in part to allow fans attending the state soccer championship game between Xavier and Perry at Gilbert Campo Verde to attend both soccer and basketball, if so desired. The soccer game will begin at 4:45 p.m. after being moved from Wednesday (Feb. 23).
As Premier Region rivals, Xavier played Perry twice in basketball during the regular season, in the case of this season on back-to-back nights on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. Xavier won both.
Gillom was hoping that the semi will not be a repeat of the game against Pinnacle.
Of the defensive lapse, she said, “I shouldn’t have to tell them. They should know.’’
The victory, she added, “Isn’t something we should settle for. We need to be better.’’
Sophomores Sarah Miller and Dominique Nesland led the team with 22 and 12 points, respectively, and another soph, Maureen Ulrich, had six points, 10 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.