Phoenix Xavier Prep usually wears the same shoes, or ones that at least look similar. Xavier follows the literal definition of “uniform.”
But before facing Anthem Boulder Creek in the first round of the Division I state tournament Wednesday at home, coach Chantel Vinson made an exception. Star 6-foot-1 forward Katie Werner would get to wear her neon green shoes that she wears during club season.
“Usually everyone wears black or whatever,” Vinson said. “But I said Katie needed to have a special night tonight, so let’s bring out the green shoes.”
Those shoes may never see the closet again. Werner poured in 24 points on 10-of-18 shooting and had 13 rebounds to lead 13th-seeded Xavier to a 47-35 win, sending No. 20 Boulder Creek home for the season.
Xavier will face fourth-seeded Avondale Westview at 7p.m. Friday at Westview High.
Stopping Werner was the top priority for Boulder Creek coach Josiah McDaniel, and he was the first to admit that the first item on his team’s pregame checklist went unaddressed.
“You’re not going to shut her out,” McDaniel said. “She’s a really good player. She’s always active. … She’s very, very tough to guard.”
Xavier (21-9) outrebounded Boulder Creek (18-11) 35-25, and had 11 of its 15 offensive rebounds in the first half.
“If we crash the boards, we get more possessions, and that’s the key to winning the game,” said Werner, who had seven offensive boards among her 13 rebounds.
Boulder Creek was hurt by foul trouble and just plain hurt.
Sophomore point guard Darian Slaga, who scored 27 points the last time the two teams met, was playing her first game since suffering a wrist injury a week earlier and couldn’t shoot effectively.
Boulder Creek’s 6-3 post Sam Young spent a lot of time on the bench in the final three quarters with foul trouble.
“It crippled us when she was out of the game,” McDaniel said. “We’re best when the game starts and ends with her.”
Getting Young in foul trouble is exactly what Xavier hoped to accomplish. Vinson, who gave each of her players game film of Boulder Creek to watch three days before their matchup was even announced, wanted Young on the bench.
“Our coaches did a great job scouting,” Werner said. “It was basically get the big girl out of the game and then exploit them on offense.”
Ashley Orozco added 11 points for Xavier. Young had 12 to lead Boulder Creek, and Slaga added 10.