The Xavier Prep Saints refuse to march quietly into that desert night.
Following a 1-4 start to their Desert Valley League season, the host Saints captured their third consecutive league win and fourth in their past five contests with a gritty 58-51 upset victory over La Quinta on Tuesday night. The win surged the Saints into fourth place in league standings, giving Xavier playoff status with just two DVL games remaining in their season.
Xavier’s Gabriel Dreisbach led all scorers with 18 points, while Jake Ashton and Ethan Sontz both added 11 for the victors.
“Our first two games, we knew we had to get those wins,” Dreisbach said of the Saints’ late-season streak. “And tonight, the effort we came with was just something you can’t get all the time. And with this being our last home game for the seniors, it’s something we have to cherish.”
Xavier’s true calling card on the evening was an aggressive defense that continually kept the Blackhawks at bay.
“The defense was new for them (La Quinta) and we had them confused,” Dreisbach added. “We have two guys in the back, but everyone else is just flying around. We all help each other and it’s really not even during a call. We just fly around and help each other get to center and nobody’s seen it before. It’s something we’ve implemented and it’s been working.”
Five nights after a comeback win at Palm Springs, La Quinta was unable to mount a similar surge Tuesday. Though the Blackhawks cut the Xavier lead to three points after an 8-2 run to open the third quarter and whittled their deficit to 54-51 with less than a minute remaining in the game, another winning rally was not to be.
“We need to play hard for four quarters instead of two, because I think we kind of outplayed them in the second half tonight,” said La Quinta head coach Jeff Hepner. “But digging an 11-point hole in the first half and you’re playing from behind the whole second half.”
Jojo Wiggins paced La Quinta with 17 points and Kameron Dashner scored 12 for the visitors.
The Blackhawks (12-12, 6-4 DVL) dropped to third place in DVL with the loss and travel to Cathedral City on Thursday.
The No. 8 ranked team in Division 5-AA, the intriguing rise for Xavier (10-11, 5-5 DVL) ensues when the Saints travel to second place Indio on Thursday.