Savvy Hummer pushing himself
Trailing by five points with 54 seconds left in regulation against Hilliard Darby on Jan. 22, the Upper Arlington High School boys basketball team didn't panic.
The Golden Bears acted as buttoned-down as their junior point guard, Danny Hummer, who was leading a comeback that could jumpstart a late-season surge.
Hummer scored 27 of his 29 points in the second half and overtime, including three 3-pointers in the final minute of the fourth quarter and another 3-pointer 21 seconds into overtime that gave UA the lead for good in a 60-55 victory.
The Bears had trailed 28-15 midway through the third quarter.
"I figured I'd pull up a few times and see if I could get it going, and I did," Hummer said. "Once I got it going, everything seemed to fall into place."
It was the latest standout performance by one of the Bears' top two scorers. Through 14 games, junior guard Kevin Vannatta was averaging 20 points and Hummer was averaging 14.1. Either Vannatta or Hummer led the team in scoring in each of UA's first 14 games. But until the game against Darby, the Bears hadn't had a player take over a contest when the outcome seemed dire the way Hummer did.
"He's a very skilled, talented player with a tremendous amount of savvy," coach Tim Casey said of Hummer. "He's blessed with natural gifts. He's worked at his game, but I still think he's learning how to push himself, how to challenge himself. He's always been a dominant player. Sometimes other teams lock him down, and the thing we've talked about is having a point guard's mindset -- take what they give you, make the extra pass, move the ball and get us a different look. If you think you have an advantage, then get in that attack mode. He's starting to figure out how to play with that tempo and getting other people involved. ...
"I think he's starting to understand that, but (against Darby) he just took over the game."
Both Hummer and Vannatta earned a starting spot as a sophomore. Last season, the Bears looked more to Vannatta, who averaged 11.5 points and was named second-team all-OCC-Central Division and honorable mention all-district in Division I, and 2012 graduates and guards Connor Casey (13.9, first-team all-league, third-team all-district) and Carter Smith (8.3, second-team all-league, honorable mention all-district) to take clutch shots. This year, UA has just one senior -- forward Austin Ping -- and 6-foot-6 junior forward Logan Richter is the only player taller than 6-3 who sees significant playing time.
Vannatta, who said he has been playing basketball with Hummer since they were second-graders, said Hummer has never shied from stepping into the spotlight.
"I remember against Pickerington Purple in sixth grade (when both were players in the Golden Bear Basketball Club), Danny hit a buzzer-beater at the end of regulation and another one to win at the end of overtime. He really took over," Vannatta said. "But if you would ask me which was a better performance, I would say (the Darby) game because it was against much better competition."
Such performances haven't changed Hummer's often stone-faced demeanor on the court as the Bears try to hang in the OCC-Central race. Entering the week, they were 7-7 overall and 4-4 in the league, three-and-a-half games behind the leader, Dublin Coffman (8-1).
"Danny tries to keep everything under the vest," coach Casey said. "He doesn't like to show a lot of emotion. Danny has the fire inside, no question. You don't do what he does and play like he does without that. But letting that come out a little bit would make him even better."