Kelsey Hansel averaged 15.5 points last season, so the five she scored for the Upper Arlington High School girls basketball team last Friday in a 78-56 win over Thomas Worthington seemed meager.

Kelsey Hansel averaged 15.5 points last season, so the five she scored for the Upper Arlington High School girls basketball team last Friday in a 78-56 win over Thomas Worthington seemed meager.

But those five points came in five minutes of playing time as Hansel, a 5-foot-7 senior guard, was making her season debut after tearing the ACL and MCL in her left knee last July.

"I'm realizing how much stronger these girls are," she said. "I'm not nearly at the level I was."

Even if in five-minute increments, having Hansel on the court should help the Bears, who struggled to finish games in an 84-51 loss to Dublin Coffman on Jan. 16 and in a 66-47 loss to Dublin Scioto on Jan. 20.

Against the Shamrocks, who were second in last week's Division I state poll, UA trailed just 36-34 at halftime. Against Scioto, UA was outscored 24-11 in the fourth quarter.

"We played well in five out of those eight quarters, but we let all that good work go for naught," coach Chris Savage said.

"We had these short stretches where we don't play well and those six minutes can hurt us."

Against Thomas, the Bears trailed 32-26 at the half, but led by Abby Frye they owned the second half. Frye scored 24 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter. Shannon Flower had 15 points and 10 offensive rebounds and Ashley Stuart had 10 points and five steals.

"It means the world to see Kelsey come back," said Frye, who has played with Hansel for eight years. "We all felt bad when she tore her ACL. I know how much she has worked for this season."

After last Friday's games, UA was tied with Hilliard Darby for third in the OCC-Central Division at 5-4 behind Coffman (9-0) and Hilliard Davidson (8-1) and ahead of Central Crossing (4-5), Thomas (4-5), Worthington Kilbourne (1-8) and Westland (0-9).

UA will play Friday at Darby, which won the first meeting 55-41 on Dec. 19 as senior Shanee' Jackson scored 26 points.

"We have to do a better job of handing her," Savage said. "She can turn it on and get it going in a heartbeat."

Hansel, who was first-team all-OCC last year, never had been sidelined by injury until last summer. Playing in the final game of the Deep South Classic in Tennessee on July 25, she made a steal and was going in for a layup but landed awkwardly on her left leg.

Hansel had drawn attention from Liberty, Xavier, South Carolina, Butler and Ball State, but that interest waned after the injury.

"It's been frustrating," Hansel said. "I felt good enough to play. My doctor said with ACL injuries, there's a period of weakness and if you come back too soon, you'll tear it again.

"As of now, the recruiting has narrowed down to next to nothing. I've had so many coaches tell me how sorry they were but because the injury, they weren't as interested."

Hansel said it has forced her to grow as a person.

"My role is no longer to be the leading scorer, but I am so proud of this team," she said. "They've really stepped it up. This year I'm trying to be more encouraging and help the team. I know the girls more than the coaches and I'm able to talk with them easier than a coach could."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedule for the Upper Arlington girls basketball team:

Jan. 20 -- Lost to Dublin Scioto 66-47. Abby Frye scored 15 points and Mary Corbett had 12.

*Last Friday -- Defeated Thomas Worthington 78-56

*Last Tuesday -- Played Worthington Kilbourne

*Friday -- At Hilliard Darby. The Panthers, who beat UA 55-41 on Dec. 19, were 7-7 overall and 5-4 in OCC-Central before facing Central Crossing last Tuesday.

*Tuesday -- Home vs. Central Crossing. The Comets, who lost to UA 53-44 on Dec. 23, were 10-5 and 4-5 in the OCC-Central after losing to Dublin Coffman 75-22 last Friday.

Of note: The Bears were 7-7 overall and 5-4 in OCC-Central before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Central game