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, February 9, 2022

Gators perfect 8-0 in region, 17-5 overall

 Xavier Prep’s basketball team found a great way to end the regular season on Tuesday night (Feb. 8).

The Gators polished off host Chandler Hamilton 59-46 to finish with a perfect 8-0 record in the 6A Conference Premier Region and 17-5 overall mark, signaling that they should be a major factor when the state tournament begins on Feb. 16.

Xavier has been running at No. 2 behind defending state champion Surprise Valley Vista in the Arizona Interscholastsic Association power points list for quite some time. The final seedings are expected to be released later this week, after the eight “play-in’’ games on Thursday night (Feb. 10).

The top eight seeds will play home games in the first round and possibly beyond.

Against Hamilton, Xavier set the tone early, building a 15-4 lead at the end of the first quarter. The run was sparked by a pressing defense and an emphasis on cutting with crisp passing at the offensive end.

Xavier led 30-14 at the half, punctuated by junior Sienna Cherwinski’s 3-point basket just before the buzzer. Cherwinski also had another 3-pointer and finished with 10 points.

The margin grew to 22 points entering the fourth quarter, but Hamilton came back in the last period to make the score somewhat respectable.

Sophomore Ella Malee was the driving force behind the Huskies’ comeback attempt. She finished with 16 points, including four 3-pointers, three of those in the fourth quarter, Hamilton was unable to oare its deficit to single digits as the clock did not cooperate.

Sophpmore Sarah Miller led the Gators with 23 points. Senior forward Toni Garcia had one of her best games with nine points and four rebounds.

AIA 6A Conference girls’ basketball “play-in’’games

Thursday, Feb. 10

Seedings in parentheses

Tempe Corona del Sol (24) at Mesa High (9), Phoenix Sunnyslope (17) at Mesa Mountain View (16), Surprise Shadow Ridge (18) at Chandler High (15), Glendale Copper Canyon (21) at Glendale Mountain Ridge (12), Gilbert Highland (22) at Gilbert Perry (11), Tucson Rincon (20) at Tucson High (13), Anthem Boulder Creek (19) at Laveen Cesar Chavez (14), Chandler Basha (23) at Phoenix Pinnacle (10).




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