Xavier Prep’s outstanding basketball season came to a screeching halt on Thursday night (Feb. 24) as visiting Gilbert Perry pulled a 50-45 6A Conference semifinal upset of the Gators at the Activity Center.
Perry (22-9) was the No. 11 seed, Xavier (19-6) No. 2. Perry now advances to the championship game for the first time in school history and will face defending champion Surprise Valley Vista on Wednesday (March 2).
Xavier’s Gators had so much wanted to be in that game, at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, known as the Madhouse on McDowell. For Xavier, it will be the Sadhouse on McDowell, because they won’t be there.
Xavier coach Jennifer Gillom can take a bit of solace in the fact that the team will lose just one senior to graduation, with a number of talented underclassmen returning.
Perry, which had lost two Premier Region games to the Gators on back-to-back nights as the calendar flipped from January to February, played one of its best all-around games of the season, getting a 23-point effort from junior post player Khamil Pierre. Senior guard Kira Patel scored 14.
And the Pumas’ defense rose to the occasion. Xavier seemed a bit dismayed because just about every time it brought the ball across halfcourt, it seemed to be double-teamed.
The game remained close throughout, although Perry expanded its lead in the fourth quarter. Xavier cut the lead to two, but could not pull ahead.
Sophomores Sarah Miller and Dom Nesland scored 17 and 12 points, respectively, to lead the Gators. Junior Sienna Cherwinski had 6, sophomore Maureen Ulrich and junior Gabby Trbovic had 4 each and senior Toni Garcia had 2.