The Upper Arlington High School girls basketball team had seven days to prepare for its OCC-Central Division matchup against Hilliard Darby last Friday.

The Upper Arlington High School girls basketball team had seven days to prepare for its OCC-Central Division matchup against Hilliard Darby last Friday.

The Golden Bears, who rolled to a 56-30 victory, will not have that luxury when they participate in the Watterson Holiday Classic. They will play Centerville at 4:45 p.m. Monday and DeSales at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday.

The two-day event will test the Bears, who were 5-0 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Central before playing Central Crossing last Tuesday.

"Before the season starts, the coaches and I sit down and think about what type of teams we want to play," coach Chris Savage said. "We want to give our kids many different experience so when (the Division I district) tournament time comes, nothing is going to faze them."

"The Watterson tournament is always a lot of fun for us," said guard Ashley Stuart, who scored 10 points against Darby. "There's a lot of excitement. I've got some family who come in for the holidays and they're able to come see us play. If you do well, you gain a lot of confidence."

The Holiday Classic will help UA prepare for a pair of weekends in January in which it plays back-to-back games. The Bears have road games against defending OCC-Central champion Dublin Coffman on Jan. 15 and Big Walnut on Jan. 16 and play host to Darby on Jan. 29 and Coffman on Jan. 30.

"That second game (at the Holiday Classic) is going to be hard," Savage said. "We're not terribly deep right now. If that first game goes down to the wire, which I think it will, we're going to have a lot of girls logging a lot of minutes in 24 hours. They could be a lethargic in the second game."

"The biggest question is how well are we going to recuperate (after the first game at the Holiday Classic)?" Stuart said. "I know they are both going to be very hard games and you worry about the fatigue. We're putting in the hard work right now, and hopefully we'll be ready. We're looking forward to it."

UA has played in the Holiday Classic since the 2006-07 season. The Bears are 3-3 in the event. They went 0-2 last season, losing to Cincinnati Mother of Mercy 48-39 and Olmsted Falls 47-40, and split their games in 2007, beating Centennial 63-15 and losing to Watterson 52-38. UA won the event in 2006, defeating Centennial 54-19 and Watterson 54-51.

The Holiday Classic has expanded this season, going from four to eight teams. Centerville improved to 2-4 with a 57-49 win over Huber Heights Wayne last Saturday. DeSales dropped to 2-1 after losing to Watterson 44-42 last Saturday.

Savage coached DeSales from 2004-07, compiling a 55-17 record with three CCL championships. The contest Tuesday marks the first time he will face his former team.

"It's going to be a fun game," he said. "It's going to be hard being on the other side of the purple, but at the same time, I've fully bought into being at Upper Arlington.

"DeSales is exactly the type of team we need to play. They're perimeter-oriented and shoot the ball very well and play solid defense."

Savage said one of the challenges of participating in a holiday tournament is players tend to get out of the regular schedule during the winter break.

"I'm not going to be a very popular guy, but I'm going to have some early morning shoot-arounds just to keep us in the flow," he said.