This was the one that the Xavier Prep boys’ basketball team has been waiting for.
The Saints have been close, but not close enough until Tuesday night. After just missing a chance to knock off unbeaten Palm Desert last week, the Saints made good by topping Palm Springs for the first time in school history.
In a defensive struggle, Xavier beat the Indians 36-33 to move to 3-5 in DVL play. Palm Springs is 4-3.
“Knowing we had never beaten them, it was motivation for the seniors,” said Gabriel Dreisbach, who led the Saints with 13 points and was solid under the basket. “We knew we had to do something. They’ve been ‘the’ team.”
Matt Stearns, who chipped in eight points for the Saints, added that as a transfer last year, he didn’t know much about the perennial power Indians.
“Now it shows that we can beat almost any team in the valley,” said Stearns. “We decided to step up on defense and play blue collar. We know we can’t outscore a lot of opponents, so we really had to do it with defense.”
Jake Ashton (seven points), Ethan Sontz, Joseph Dreisbach, Sava Voyne, Alex Okamoto and Jacob Myrum chipped in on both sides for the Saints. However, it took a while for the Saints to get anything going.
Palm Springs got off to a 10-3 start and held on to the halftime lead 17-14 thanks in part to back-to-back layups by David Pielaat (eight points), but the Saints came out hard in the third closing it to 23-22 after three quarters.
“We just had to keep battling,” said Xavier coach Mark Granger. “It was a really ugly basketball game, missing shots, missing free throws on both sides. Both teams were pressuring the basketball and no one could get into a flow.”
Palm Springs’ Ricky Wright put the Indians in position to win, scoring 11 of his 17 in the fourth quarter, to give the Indians a 33-30 lead.
The final minute, though, belonged to the Saints. Stearns hit a lay-in off a pass from Joseph Dreisbach, before Gabriel Dreisbach converted another hoop. Leading 34-33, Jake Ashton closed it out from the free throw line.
“We had a total team defense in the last 45 seconds and that was a game changer,” said Gabriel Dreisbach.