Upper Arlington High School post player Chris Watson predicted last Friday's game against Hilliard Darby would be a defensive battle.
He was right.
Combined with poor shooting, turnovers and foul trouble, the Golden Bears' 56-45 win ultimately came down to what team was going to make the key shots down the stretch. That team was Upper Arlington.
"It's a good matchup," UA coach Tim Casey said. "It's always going to be a physical game."
The Bears stayed golden, improving to 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Central Division. Darby fell to 1-3, 1-2.
Darby entered the game shooting 37 percent from the field and 55 percent from the free throw line and it showed early. The Panthers did not score their first basket until midway through the first quarter thanks to a lay-up by Zack Williams. UA's Brian Sullivan ended the first quarter with a 25-foot 3-point field goal, giving UA an 11-9 lead. Sullivan led the Bears with 18 points.
In addition to Darby's poor shooting, the Panthers got into early foul trouble. With only 00.9 seconds left in the first half, Darby fouled UA senior Wes Richter sending him to the free throw line. Richter converted both his attempts cementing UA's 25-17 halftime lead.
Upper Arlington took advantage of the early bonus in the second half, as Darby totaled a few fouls shy of 30 for the game. Darby's senior guard, and quarterback of the Panthers football team, Matt Allen, fouled out midway through the fourth quarter, effectively putting a comeback for the Panthers out of reach. Brennan Hook's 19 points, was the only Panther who scored more than eight points.
Upper Arlington's next contest is alumni night against Central Crossing on Tuesday, Dec. 21.
"They are capable," Casey said. "It's going to be a tough game."