The Upper Arlington High School girls basketball team carried the momentum from a hot finish to the regular season into the first round of the Division I district tournament.

The Upper Arlington High School girls basketball team carried the momentum from a hot finish to the regular season into the first round of the Division I district tournament.

Before facing fourth-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley in the second round last Wednesday, the Bears had won eight in a row, including a 53-42 decision over Westerville South in the first round Feb. 18 at Hilliard Davidson.

The second-round winner will face Olentangy Liberty or 10th-seeded Northland in a district semifinal Tuesday at Olentangy Orange.

"Right now we're playing well as a team," Sarah Buffer said. "The biggest thing for us has been our defense. We're going to have nights when we don't shoot the ball extremely well. But playing exceptional defense and communication has helped us get it together."

UA at 14-7 before last Wednesday, its most wins since the 2003-04 season when it finished 18-5 after losing to Pickerington North 64-33 in a district final.

Coach Chris Savage said the stretch started with a heated halftime talk during a 78-56 victory over Thomas Worthington on Jan. 23.

"We were trailing 32-26, and the veterans really got on the girls," he said. "We ended up scoring 52 points in the second half. Ever since that game, there's been a fire in these girls. They're really pushing each other.

"The coaches told us, 'You guys have always beaten the teams that you're supposed to beat but you never win the ones with the teams who are comparable to us,'" Buffer said. "We knew if we came out strong in the second half, we'd be making a statement."

During the winning streak, the Bears defeated Hilliard Darby 42-37 on Jan. 30 and Davidson 57-47 on Feb. 13. Both had defeated UA in the first half of the season. UA also defeated South twice in a span of 11 days, including 51-49 on Feb. 7.

Michela Paradiso scored 10 of her 17 points in the third quarter of the tournament game as the Bears outscored the Wildcats 16-6. Paradiso made two 3-pointers and two layups as UA began to pull away. Mary Corbett and Jane Windler also scored 10 points.

"That was really tough," Buffer said. "We just beat them on their senior night so they were ready to get us but we were willing to step up to the challenge."

At a glance

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

Feb. 18 -- Defeated Westerville South 53-42 in first round of Division I district tournament. Michela Paradiso scored 17 points and Mary Corbett and Jane Windler had 10.

Last Wednesday -- Played fourth-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley in second round. The winner advanced to a district semifinal Tuesday at Olentangy Orange against Olentangy Liberty or 10th-seeded Northland, with the winner of that advancing to a district final March 7 at Orange.

Of note: The Bears were 14-7 overall before last Wednesday and finished 10-4 in the OCC-Central.