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, June 1, 2022

Basketball season never seems to end for Gators

 Basketball has become a virtual year-round sport for many schools in Arizona, including Xavier Prep’s Gators.

XCP will begin its summer journey on Friday (June 3) with its participation in the annual Lady Extravaganza Tournament, which this year will be held at the new multi-million mega gym complex at Millennium High in the west Valley community of Goodyear.

Xavier is one of 12 teams participating. The Gators begin play with two pool games in Pool C, which also includes Tucson Salpointe Catholic and Mesa Westwood. Xavier will face Westwood on Friday at 4 p.m. and Salpointe at 7 p.m.

After Friday’s play, the field will be re-evaluated and teams will be seeded into three four-team divisions. Most teams are expected to play two games on Saturday (June 4). Games are tentatively scheduled for noon, 1 and 2 p.m.

Coach Jennifer Gillom will get the chance to evaluate her roster at this early stage. The Gators lost only one senior to graduation (Toni Garcia), but the rest of the roster is expected to return.

The Gators’ top players are expected to be (2022-23 year in parentheses), guard Sarah Miller and point guard Dom Nesland (both juniors), forward-guard Maureen Ulrich and guard Sienna Cherwinski (senior).

Xavier, which reached the 6A Conference semifinals last season and finished 19-6, also will play in the annual Thunderbird High Summer League in north Phoenix. The Gators are expected to play six regular-season games there plus playoffs. Xavier will play games on June 6, 7, 8, 13, 20 and 21.

The schedule opens with Glendale Deer Valley on June 6, followed by Cave Creek Cactus Shadows (7), Millennium (8), Phoenix Sunnyslope (13), Peoria Sunrise Mountain (20) and Phoenix Pinnacle (21).

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