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.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

XCP's blue hoops crew rises in Blue Bracket

 Call it coincidence, but Xavier Prep’s blue-clad Gators are nearing the championship game of the Blue Bracket in the Thunderbird Summer Basketball League.

The Gators stepped up in a big way on Friday night (June 24) with a 59-31 victory over Catholic rival Phoenix St. Mary’s to advance to Saturday’s (June 25) semifinals and, hopefully, title game.

Xavier (5-2 in the league) will face Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep at 4 p.m. in Thunderbird’s practice gym, next door to the main facility. A victory over Notre Dame would put the Gators in the title game at 8 p.m. in the main gym against either Anthem Boulder Creek or Phoenix Sunnyslope.

“We had a great effort at both ends (of the floor),’’ said Xavier coach Jennifer Gillom. “When we are playing like that, we can be hard to beat.’’

It also helps when the Gators get some productivity from their inside players instead of perhaps having to rely too much on their backcourt.

In this case, Xavier got 12 points from senior forward Gabby Trbovic and six from sophomore post player CeCe Mlat, who also had key blocked shots and rebounds.

“Those girls were huge out there tonight,’’ Gillom said. “That really helps us a lot.’’

Trbovic scored five of the team’s first seven points of the game, with her “patented’’ baseline shot as well as a give and go with senior guard Sienna Cherwinski.

Cherwinski led the Gators with 17 points. Junior guard-forward Maureen “Mo’’ Ulrich contributed 11 points.

Xavier totaled five three-point baskets, two each by Trbovic and sophomore point guard Lucy Sanford, and one by Cherwinski, who had missed some time previously due to summer school commitments, according to Gillom.

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