Cameron Hood of the Upper Arlington High School boys basketball team doesn't enter any game counting on building glamorous statistics.

Cameron Hood of the Upper Arlington High School boys basketball team doesn't enter any game counting on building glamorous statistics.

The Golden Bears' OCC-Central Division game against Thomas Worthington on Jan. 20 was an example. Hood, a 6-foot-4 senior forward, had six points, three rebounds and an assist, but the holes he helped plug defensively and his knack for being in the right spot at the right time proved crucial in a 34-30 victory.

"I'm not going to score much against a 6-10 kid who's probably got me by 80 pounds," Hood said, referring to Cardinals post player Jordan Cowgill. "But I just have to look for screens and shade to the ball and try to get other people open. Coach (Tim) Casey has really gotten us to embrace our roles. That's what I do, just try to help other people. It's all about our team."

Knowing his role on a guard-oriented team will consist mostly of workmanlike duties, Hood has taken pride in wearing the figurative hardhat. He backed up senior guard Carter Smith on the game-saving play against Thomas, when Smith knocked the ball out of Julian Henderson's hands from behind before Henderson could attempt a 3-point shot with less than five seconds left and Hood helped ensure possession.

Hood has had his share of glory in the scorebook, too. Through 13 games, he had scored in double digits four times, including a career-high 29 points in a 63-43 win over Mexico (Mo.) on Dec. 28 in Jefferson City, Mo.

"He really is the consummate team player. He's capable of scoring, he's capable of defending," said Casey, whose team was 10-3 overall and 7-1 in the OCC-Central before playing Worthington Kilbourne on Jan. 24. "We talk in our scouting reports about what he needs to do and how he needs to approach things, what we need from him on a particular night, and he's just stepping up and being everything we need and more. He's having a tremendous senior year."

Hood didn't play his sophomore year - which he called "a bad decision" - but returned as a junior and worked his way into a starting role on junior varsity. This year, he earned a starting spot on varsity, on which he played just a handful of minutes last season.

"This year has been fun," Hood said. "I'm not afraid of contact. If I get somebody open and they score, we'll point at each other and say, 'Good screen, good shot.' It's a good feeling because if I screen for someone and they shoot, they might say, 'That's your bucket.' It's good the way this team is working together."

The Bears took stock not only in beating Thomas, but how it happened. On Dec. 6 in its opener, UA lost 39-37 to the Cardinals on a 3-pointer by Henderson with .3 of a second remaining.

"If you just look at the score, you might say it was an awful game. But it was highly competitive and physical," Casey said. "At times, the ball possession wasn't great, but the effort, intensity and competitive spirit - that was a heck of a game.

"I told our guys after the game that we're getting to that point in the season where you've experienced just about everything, and that should give you an inner confidence down the stretch that any situation we're in, hey, we've already been there. We should be able to handle and react to a lot of things in a positive way."

The win over Thomas opened a two-game lead for UA in the OCC-Central over the Cardinals, Dublin Coffman, Westland and Worthington Kilbourne, all of which entered the week at 5-3 in the league.

UA plays Friday, Jan. 27, at Hilliard Darby. The Bears beat the Panthers 64-30 on Dec. 16 as Smith scored 19 points and Kevin Vannatta scored 12.