The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


Follow Us On Instagram
View this profile on Instagram

Xavier XPress (@xcpxpress) • Instagram photos and videos

Local Weather

Mission accomplished: Xavier basketball makes history

The Xavier basketball team poses victoriously with its championship trophy and banners. All with forefingers up signal Xavier’s historic first-ever championship win. (Photo courtesy of Zachary Carlson)

On March 2, 2024, at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the Xavier basketball team stepped onto the court with a mission, to give Xavier its first-ever basketball championship. It walked off victorious with a 60-53 win against defending champion Desert Vista.

Xavier is known for its winning sports culture with 152 state championships and accolades to boot from golf to soccer, a record that began back in the 1970s. Basketball, though, made it 153.

Players walked into their Xavier freshwoman years knowing they were coming into a program that had yet to achieve a title; however, this did not discourage them but pushed them to work harder and come back stronger every year. 

“We knew what our goal was, to leave a legacy, to be the first. That kept us motivated the entire time. The seniors knew this was their last opportunity,” said head coach Jennifer Gillom.

Gillom went straight to coaching high school basketball after her WNBA career. Winning state has been one of Gillom’s top goals ever since she joined Xavier in 2009. She never once doubted that the team could do this and knew deep down it was coming.

This season did not come without its challenges, from players keeping up with school to rough practices, but none of it fazed them. The team went on to win nearly all of their regular season games and dominate playoffs, finishing with a 16-1 record.

“When we got to the playoffs it felt like this was our year, especially when we got past semi-finals and once we got past it I thought this was it. We’re going all the way,” said co-captain Sarah Nakamura Miller.

In the championship, the Gators battled a talented Desert Vista who put up a strong fight defensively and offensively. Despite this, the Gators played with defining poise from the beginning. “The poise that these players played with the entire game, it’s as if they believed the whole time that they could win it,” reflected Gillom.

The Gators held the lead throughout nearly all of the game. The Thunder was close entering the fourth quarter, but Miller responded with two three-pointers that would widen the gap. 

With 26 seconds left, co-captain Dominique Nesland went to the foul line four times and sunk every shot. In practices, Nesland made every single one of her free throws. “Scoring those last free throws, I just had to focus and was thinking ‘You can do it,’” she said. 

After those remaining seconds waned, the buzzer went off and the crowd roared.

“I couldn’t even feel my legs. My legs couldn’t even hold me up when I heard that buzzer,” said Miller.

The first thing Gillom did when the buzzer sounded was look up and point up to the sky at God. “I felt in my heart that this was a God thing. Through all that we’ve been through I never lost faith. He didn’t bring us this far to leave us,” Gillom said.

The whole team ran to the court and embraced each other with tears of joy. The joy of putting the long-standing question to rest of “Will this be the year Xavier wins its first basketball championship?”

Winning state and giving Xavier its first championship was a sigh of relief for the team. During the celebration and receiving the trophy, Miller thought to herself, “We are finally here.”

Throughout the years the team has had doubters but more supporters who always believed in them. To those who never doubted them, Gillom says, “Thank you for believing in us. Thank you for that extra motivation that we needed in the hard times.”

Truly, this team came into the year as individuals with a plan to win but through this journey and in that game, they came together, a team that found a family within one another.

“It’s great to be a part of history. To be the first, to put that banner up there, to put that trophy up there is the best feeling of all. I think they (the players) finally found that joy as well,” Gillom said.

View Comments (2)
More to Discover

Comments (2)

We love and accept all constructive criticisms. We also like to hear what we did good; it's a great confidence booster!
All XPress picks Reader picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • O

    Olivia GarciaMar 7, 2024 at 7:04 pm

    great job MJ!

  • A

    Asiana GuangMar 7, 2024 at 3:53 pm

    amazing article!