It could be said that how Taylor McGlade goes, so goes the Upper Arlington High School girls basketball team.
A two-year starter at point guard, the 5-foot-6 junior does not have eye-popping statistics, as she was averaging 3.4 points, 3.5 assists and two steals through 19 games. However, she entered the week averaging fewer than two turnovers per game and is the leader on the floor for the Golden Bears, who were 18-1 overall and 11-1 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Marysville on Feb. 4.
"She's super important," guard Kyle Croxton said. "She's the coach on the court. She facilitates everything. She keeps everyone together."
McGlade, who played in a few games on varsity as a freshman and started all but one game as a sophomore, admitted that she sometimes struggles to define her role.
"That's a hard one," she said. "I would like to score more and help out my team, but I can't always be top scorer. I have my role as a point guard. I have to make it hard for the other point guard to set up their offense. Once their point guard struggles, hopefully it rubs off on the (rest of the opponent's players) and it helps us."
Coach Chris Savage's praise of McGlade was more pointed.
"I hope she knows we're (18-1) primarily because of her and the role she's been able to take for us," Savage said. "I know she'd probably like to score more and we're not telling her not to score, but we need to her to play good defense and set things up for us. I want to make sure we stress to her all the time how important she is to us. It's not statistically defined, but her role is tremendously important."
Entering the week, McGlade's season-high was 11 points, which she scored in a 75-42 win over Hilliard Davidson on Dec. 20 and matched in a 47-45 win over Westland on Jan. 7.
"What I love about her play is that there really is (no single standout performance) because she is so consistent," Savage said. "There is no real good or real bad. She is solid all the time."
McGlade's role could change next year, as the Bears will be losing three of their top four scorers -- Andi Norman (13.6 points through 19 games), Annika Wachtman (10.2) and Croxton (6.2) -- to graduation and might need to have an experienced player help sophomore center Kortney Eisenman carry the offensive load.
Eisenman, a two-year starter, was averaging 10.1 points and six rebounds through 19 games.
A 64-34 win over Davidson on Jan. 31 helped UA close in on its first OCC-Central title since winning back-to-back championships in 2010 and 2011. The Bears entered the week one-and-a-half games ahead of second-place Dublin Coffman (9-2).
UA concludes the regular season Friday, Feb. 7, at Westland. It defeated the Cougars 47-45 on Jan. 7 in the first round of league play.
The Bears then will turn their attention to the Division I district tournament. They are seeded second of 47 teams -- Reynoldsburg is the top seed -- and will play host to 38th-seeded Central Crossing in a first-round game Feb. 17.
UA swept the Comets in OCC-Central play, winning 44-31 on Jan. 28 and 41-27 on Dec. 16.
"We just have to keep coming out fierce in games," McGlade said. "If we can do that and get the other team out of their game plan, we feed off that."
Hockey team ready to open Cup tourney
Hockey coach Jay Graham hopes strong performances against the Capital Hockey Conference's top teams during the regular season bodes well for his team in the Blue Jackets Cup, which begins Thursday, Feb. 6.
The Bears earned the sixth seed for the league tournament and will play third-seeded Olentangy Liberty in a first-round game at 8 p.m. Feb. 6 at Chiller Dublin. The winner faces Dublin Jerome or DeSales in a semifinal at 6:20 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, at OhioHealth Ice Haus, with the semifinal winner advancing to the final at 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9, at the Ice Haus.
UA is 16-11-2-1 overall and finished 10-3-2-1 with 23 points in the CHC-White Division to place second behind St. Charles (28, 14-2) and ahead of DeSales (16, 8-8) and Gahanna (14, 7-9).
The Bears lost to Olentangy Orange 3-2 in their regular-season finale Feb. 2, allowing the winning goal with 52 seconds remaining. The loss ended their three-game winning streak, which included victories over Watterson (6-2 on Feb. 1) and Cincinnati Moeller (2-1 on Jan. 31).
"We've played very well the past few weeks," Graham said. "I think there are six teams in Columbus who can hold their own against anybody in the state and each other, and I hope we're one of them. I feel like we can skate with anyone. I hope the momentum we've built continues."
UA played Liberty to a 1-all tie on Jan. 3.
"That was an even-fought battle, a pretty good game that went back and forth," Graham said. "Both of us had quality goaltending and it was a straight-up battle. They know us well and we know them well."
Vannatta reaches career milestone
Kevin Vannatta of the boys basketball team needed 19 points against visiting Davidson on Jan. 31 to reach 1,000 for his career, and that's what he scored in a 58-35 win.
Vannatta joins Nate Wilbourne (1,206 points), Bill Cook (1,152) and Brian Sullivan (1,115) in the Bears' 1,000-point club. Wilbourne, a 1992 graduate, played at Ohio State and Sullivan, a 2011 graduate, played one season at Miami University before transferring to Davidson College in North Carolina.
Vannatta, who is a University of North Carolina-Asheville signee, and Danny Hummer were nominated for the McDonald's All-American Game to be held April 2 in Chicago, but neither was selected to participate.
They will be honored for their nominations Friday, Feb. 7, before the U0A's home game against Westland.
The Bears were 16-1 overall and 10-1 in the OCC-Central before visiting Marysville on Feb. 4.