Upper Arlington High School girls basketball coach Chris Savage doesn't think scouting will be a headache as his team prepares for the Division I district tournament.
After the Golden Bears earned the second seed in the district, one of their OCC-Central Division foes, Central Crossing, selected to play them in the first round. UA will play host to the 38th-seeded Comets on Monday, Feb. 17, with the winner playing 36th-seeded Thomas Worthington -- another member of the OCC-Central -- in the second round Feb. 20 at the home of the higher seed.
The Bears swept both Central Crossing and Thomas in league play this season, defeating the Comets 41-27 on Dec. 16 and 44-31 on Jan. 28 and beating the Cardinals 57-23 on Dec. 23 and 48-42 on Jan. 17.
"We have an interesting draw," said Savage, whose team is 20-1 overall and finished 13-1 in the OCC-Central. "If you're one of those top four seeds, sometimes teams are going to come at you. Central Crossing is a very disciplined team, very organized, and they gave us two tough games. We can't take anything for granted against them. All I have to tell the girls is to look back at last year when we upset a higher seed in Pickerington Central. That could very easily happen to us if we're not careful."
UA, which beat 10th-seeded Central 45-42 in the first round last season as the 23rd seed, enters the postseason as OCC-Central champion for the first time since 2011. The Bears clinched the title with a 49-28 win at Westland on Feb. 7. Dublin Coffman was second in the league at 10-2 before playing Thomas on Feb. 10 and Westland on Feb. 11.
The win over Westland was UA's 19th in a row and 26th in its last 28, dating to last season.
Andi Norman had 29 points against the Cougars, including seven 3-pointers.
The Bears had clinched a share of the league title with a 60-35 win over Marysville on Feb. 4. Kortney Eisenman scored a career-high 24 points as UA outscored the Monarchs 38-15 in the second half.
"Every coach will tell you a league title is their first priority," Savage said. "We hadn't won it in two years. That might not seem like a long time to a lot of people, but we've built this program to the point where we expect to contend every year. The girls picked it up in the second half (against Marysville). We've won (19) games in a row. We want to keep this going."
Girls swimming team wins sectional title
Eighteen members of the girls swimming and diving team qualified for the Division I district meet in a total of eight events and the boys team advanced 14 individuals in a total of nine events from their home sectional Feb. 8.
The girls team amassed 494 points to finish first, well ahead of runner-up Watterson (153) as 13 teams scored. The boys team was second (322) behind champion St. Charles (340.5) as 11 teams scored.
Both teams swept the relay events.
District swimming competition and girls diving takes place Saturday, Feb. 15, at Ohio State. Boys diving is Friday, Feb. 14.
Top performers at sectional for the girls team included Gracie Long, who won the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute, 52.16 seconds) and 100 free (52.23); Jenny Smith, who finished first in the 200 individual medley (2:08) and 500 free (4:57.34); Alexandra Hedden, who won the 50 free (24.71); Jamie Krupp, who won the 100 breaststroke (1:08.39); and Erin Sheehan, who finished first in the 100 butterfly (58.74).
UA took the top four places in the 200 free, 100 free and 100 breast.
For the boys team, Thomas Trace won the 50 free (21.25) and 100 backstroke (50.1) and helped the 200 medley relay (1:39.86) and 200 free relay (1:30.58) to wins. The 400 free relay also finished first (3:21.22).
Long, Smith and Trace all are seeded first at district in two individual events.
The top two placers in each swimming event at district automatically advance to the state meet Feb. 20-22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths will be awarded for each swimming event based on times statewide. The top three finishers in boys diving and the top four finishers in girls diving also advance to state.
Wrestling team getting set for home sectional
The wrestling team will play host to a Division I sectional tournament Saturday, Feb. 15.
According to coach Matt Stout, it marks the first time since 1989 that UA has played host to a postseason tournament. He is hoping that his team makes a strong showing despite an ongoing rash of injuries.
"We've been hurt to some extent all year," Stout said, noting recent concussions sustained by Thomas Cooper (120 pounds) and Michael O'Sullivan (132) and a season-ending separated shoulder by Nick Dolan (heavyweight). Cooper was injured in practice Jan. 20 but returned for an OCC-Central dual against Thomas Worthington on Jan. 30.
Blake Reid, a returning state qualifier at 170, sustained a season-ending elbow injury in early January.
UA does have junior Quinten Wolfe back in the lineup at heavyweight after missing most of the season with a back injury. He returned Feb. 1, finishing second in the All-North Tournament at Dublin Jerome.
Sam Beam (138) also finished second and Collin Burt (113) and Izak Wunderlich (182) both placed third in the All-North Tournament.
Joining the Bears in their 11-team sectional are Briggs, Columbus West, Grove City, Hilliard Bradley, Hilliard Davidson, New Albany, Olentangy Orange, Thomas, Westerville North and Whetstone.
The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district Feb. 21 and 22 at Hilliard Darby.
"I think Westerville North is the favorite and Hilliard Bradley might be second," Stout said. "If we wrestle lights-out, we might get 10 guys out to district. Realistically, it'll probably be more like five or six."
UA defeated Westland 76-6 on Feb. 6 to finish 2-5 in the OCC-Central.
Gymnastics team takes 3rd in OCC meet
Emily Jones of the gymnastics team shined in the OCC-Ohio meet Feb. 8 at Darby, finishing second on floor exercise (9.175 points), fourth on uneven bars (9.0), fifth on vault (8.9) and third in all-around (35.775).
Rebecca Jaskot placed third on floor (9.15) for the Bears, who scored 136.8 points to finish third behind Coffman (143.425) and Grove City (137.75) and ahead of Olentangy (134.65), Thomas (131.825) and Darby (128.3).
UA will compete in the district meet Feb. 22 at Worthington Kilbourne.
Hockey team earns high seed for district
After a 3-1 loss to Olentangy Liberty in the first round of the Blue Jackets Cup on Feb. 6, the hockey team has a chance to regroup before starting the district tournament.
UA earned the fourth seed and took a first-round bye. The Bears will play Olentangy or Troy in the second round at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, at OhioHealth Ice Haus, with the winner playing fifth-seeded Liberty, Centerville or Watterson in a district quarterfinal Feb. 22 at the Ice Haus.
The Bears, who are 16-12-2, defeated Olentangy 2-0 on Dec. 15 but did not play Troy during the regular season.
Seeded sixth in the Blue Jackets Cup, UA trailed third-seeded Liberty within the game's first 30 seconds but tied it on Jack Dolan's goal off a turnover with 4 minutes, 50 seconds left in the first period. The Patriots scored two third-period goals.