Xavier Prep’s basketball team wrapped up its “regular season’’ schedule in the Thunderbird (High) Summer League on Tuesday night (June 21) with a 43-31 victory over Phoenix Pinnacle, and now the Gators’ attention turns to an “old friend’’ with which they had a rivalry for many years.
Xavier (4-2 in the T-Bird) will meet fellow Catholic school Phoenix St. Mary’s as the summer league playoffs begin on Friday (June 24) at Thunderbird. The teams will have an 8 p.m. tipoff, with the winner moving on to the next round on Saturday (June 25) against Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep or Phoenix Horizon. Tipoff for the Saturday game is 4 p.m.
“We don’t know much about them (St. Mary’s) other than they are another team we are capable of beating,’’ said Xavier coach Jennifer Gillom.
St. Mary’s was on a three-season roll in the 2000-teens, winning state titles in 2011, 2012 and 2013. The last time Xavier defeated the Lady Knights was in the 2017-18 season with Gillom as coach. Xavier also earned victories in 2016-17, 2014-15 and 2013-14.
St. Mary’s is now in Arizona’s 4A Conference, while Xavier remains in 6A. Xavier has not won a state championship, but has come close, with back-to-back runner-up finishes in 2018 and 2018 under Gillom, in 1986 under John Chambers and in 1977 under athletic director Sr. Lynn Winsor.
Senior forward Gabby Trbovic energized the Gators early in the second half with a 3-point basket from the right corner. Xavier led by nine at that point, but Pinnacle came back within 28-26 when Xavier called a timeout.
Another corner trey by Trbovic got the Gators going again, and Xavier went on a 13-0 run to take control of the game.
Trbovic finished with a trio of threes and led XCP scorers with 11 points. Junior Jasmine Olivar had nine and junior Maureen “Mo’’ Ulrich and sophomore Lucy Sanford had eight each.
Asked what helped the Gators make that late push, Gillom said, “Defensive intensity is the key right now. We also want to go hard after rebounds, never let them (opponent) get comfortable.’’