Upper Arlington News

Upper Arlington Roundup

Boys squad out to impress

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In at least one respect, it doesn't matter to Logan Richter that the Upper Arlington High School boys basketball team is 20-1.

The senior forward thought the Golden Bears needed some momentum heading into the Division I district tournament, in which they are seeded third. According to Richter, UA got it with a 54-38 win over defending Division II state champion Watterson on Feb. 10 and a 42-39 victory at Dublin Coffman on Feb. 14.

"I hope the snowball has started rolling," Richter said. "We haven't had many bigger wins than Watterson and Coffman. Those are two premier teams who have proven themselves and have played a lot of good teams. We may not have played the toughest schedule, but we want to make sure we prove we're among the elite teams in central Ohio, and maybe the state."

The postseason begins with a first-round home game against 38th-seeded Pickerington North on Friday, Feb. 21.

UA's win over Coffman capped a 13-1 season in the OCC-Central Division. The Bears, who had clinched the league championship outright Feb. 7 when they defeated Westland 42-27 and Coffman lost to Olentangy Liberty 44-34, finished two games ahead of Liberty (11-3) and three ahead of Coffman (10-4).

Liberty handed the Bears their only league loss, 34-31 on Dec. 13.

Northland earned the top seed in the 45-team district and Gahanna is seeded second. When it came time for Bears coach Tim Casey to choose a slot on the bracket, he picked the same one as Gahanna. If the teams meet, it would be in a district final.

"Seeding is always kind of crazy," Casey said. "When you go on a bracket, you never know who will jump on you or who will go where. The bracket is always a puzzle of its own."

Pickerington North is 3-19 and its top players include 6-foot-2 guard Bryce Montes and his younger brother, 5-10 guard Zach Montes.

Bryce Montes had a career-high 24 points in a 77-67 loss to Groveport on Feb. 4 and scored 21 in a 59-48 loss to Pickerington Central -- the sixth seed in Division I -- on Feb. 11.

Kevin Vannatta is averaging 16.4 points, six rebounds and 2.3 assists for the Bears and Danny Hummer is averaging 8.2 points, 4.1 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.9 steals.

The first-round winner will play 30th-seeded Olentangy in the second round Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the home of the higher seed. The winner of that contest will play 12th-seeded Grove City, 23rd-seeded Franklin Heights or 31st-seeded Mount Vernon in a district semifinal March 5 at Marysville.

UA did not play any of those teams during the regular season, but the Bears lost to Olentangy 43-41 in the first round of the district tournament last year on a last-second layup.

"There's still a lot of built-up anger from that game," Richter said. "If we get there, hopefully we can unleash some of that. If we win, maybe we can redeem ourselves for last year and put that game behind us."

Croxton leads girls team in tourney win

Kyle Croxton scored 11 points to lead the girls basketball team to a 49-27 win over visiting Central Crossing in a Division I district tournament first-round game Feb. 17.

Kortney Eisenman, Andi Norman and Annika Wachtman each added eight points for the second-seeded Bears, who led 19-13 at halftime before outscoring the 38th-seeded Comets 17-2 in the third quarter.

UA, which improved to 21-1, advanced to play host to 36th-seeded Thomas Worthington in a second-round game Thursday, Feb. 20, at home. The Bears swept the Cardinals in their two OCC-Central meetings, winning 57-23 on Dec. 23 and 48-42 on Jan. 17.

The second-round winner will play eighth-seeded Teays Valley or 16th-seeded Watterson in a district semifinal Feb. 27 at Westerville Central.

Neelys win sectional wrestling titles

Taylor Neely and Keith Neely of the wrestling team won Division I sectional titles at 145 and 152 pounds, respectively, as host UA scored 169 points to place third in an 11-team sectional Feb. 15 behind Westerville North (237) and Hilliard Bradley (235.5).

According to coach Matt Stout, it marked the first time since 1989 that UA has played host to a postseason tournament.

The top four finishers in each weight class at sectional advanced to district Friday, Feb. 21, and Saturday, Feb. 22, at Hilliard Darby.

In addition to the Neely brothers, qualifying for district were Sam Beam (138), Thomas Cooper (120), Alex Tepley (195), Quinten Wolfe (heavyweight) and Izak Wunderlich (182).

Cooper and Wolfe placed third at sectional and Beam, Tepley and Wunderlich finished fourth.

The top four finishers in each weight class at district advance to state Feb. 27-March 1 at Ohio State.

Hockey team getting set to face Patriots

The hockey team opened the district tournament with a 4-1 win over 17th-seeded Olentangy in the second round Feb. 15 at OhioHealth Ice Haus.

Fourth-seeded UA improved to 17-12-2 and advanced to play fifth-seeded Liberty in the third round at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Ice Haus. The Bears are 0-1-1 against the Patriots this season. The teams tied at 1 on Jan. 3 and Liberty won 3-1 in the first round of the Blue Jackets Cup on Feb. 6.

The third-round winner will play top-seeded St. Charles or 10th-seeded Cincinnati Moeller in a district semifinal at 3:45 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23, at the Ice Haus. The district final is March 1 at the Ice Haus.

UA faced both St. Charles and Moeller one apiece during the regular season. The Bears lost to the Cardinals 2-1 in overtime on Jan. 11 but defeated the Crusaders 2-1 on Jan. 31.

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