The Upper Arlington High School boys basketball team honored its top two players before a Feb. 7 home game against Westland.
Seniors Danny Hummer and Kevin Vannatta received commemorative basketballs for being the program's all-time leader in assists and reaching 1,000 career points, respectively. They also received certificates in honor of being nominated for the McDonald's All-American Game, which takes place April 2 at United Center in Chicago, although neither was selected to participate.
Hummer had 13 points and Vannatta scored 10 in a 42-27 win over Westland, but coach Tim Casey noted that without a deep bench the Golden Bears would not be OCC-Central Division champions, nor would they have been seeded third for the Division I district tournament behind Northland and Gahanna.
The Bears will play host to 38th-seeded Pickerington North in the first round of the tournament Feb. 21. The winner plays 30th-seeded Olentangy in the second round Feb. 26 at the home of the higher seed.
"Our strength has been our depth. I hoped it was going to be the key, and that's turned out to be case," Casey said. "We can play 10 guys and feel comfortable with any of them on the floor. Different guys step up.
"Wes (Davis) has been our go-to guy defensively. He doesn't get tired and takes great pride in guarding the basketball. Logan (Richter) has grown up a ton. He's always consistent. So many of these guys give that kind of effort every night and wrap their arms around their roles, even if it's not necessarily scoring points."
Everyone on the Bears' roster contributed Feb. 7 on what became a memorable night for the program. The win over Westland secured at least a share of their first league championship since 2012 and fourth in five years.
That same night, Olentangy Liberty defeated Dublin Coffman 44-34, handing the Shamrocks their third league loss and the Bears the outright title.
UA, which is 19-1 overall after defeating defending Division II state champion Watterson 54-38 on Feb. 10, is 12-1 in the OCC-Central heading into its regular-season finale Friday, Feb. 14, at Coffman. Liberty and Coffman are tied for second at 10-3.
The Bears defeated Coffman 43-40 on Jan. 10. Vannatta had 14 points and nine rebounds and Richter had 10 points.
"It's very important to win (the league title), especially to send the seniors off right," said junior guard Chris Allocco, a 3-point threat off the bench who had scored 33 of his 42 points through 19 games from outside the arc. "Last year (when UA went 8-6 in the league to tie Thomas Worthington for fourth) was a disappointment. We've felt all year like we've had a good chance to win it again."
UA has relied all season on its defense, having allowed an average of 36.3 points through 19 games. Some of the Bears' recent efforts have been particularly impressive, as they allowed just 13 points through three quarters in a 62-33 league win at Marysville on Feb. 4 and held Westland to 12 points until the middle of the fourth quarter.
"We've been especially good pressuring the ball lately and just playing really solid man-to-man defense," said Davis, a senior guard who transferred to UA this past summer after moving from Kingwood, Texas, a suburb of Houston.
"It's just been straight-up ball pressure on both ends of the court. We've worked together well and had each other's backs."
Hummer had three assists against Westland to raise his career total to 365. Earlier this season, he passed Mike Schwartz's career mark of 312 assists set from 2004-07. Schwartz had broken the program record held by Jamie Moore, who had 305 assists from 1984-86.
Vannatta had 1,024 career points through 19 games, ranking fourth in program history.