Upper Arlington performed like a well-oiled machine before 14,322 mostly black-and-gold-clad fans at Value City Arena last night. The Golden Bears often appeared to read one another's minds as they ran their offensive sets in a 74-49 defeat of Trotwood-Madison in a Division I state semifinal. In advancing to its first title game since 1937, UA assisted on 19 of its 25 baskets and shot 64.1 percent from the field.
Upper Arlington performed like a well-oiled machine before 14,322 mostly black-and-gold-clad fans at Value City Arena last night.
The Golden Bears often appeared to read one another’s minds as they ran their offensive sets in a 74-49 defeat of Trotwood-Madison in a Division I state semifinal. In advancing to its first title game since 1937, UA assisted on 19 of its 25 baskets and shot 64.1 percent from the field.
“Wow, what an awesome feeling,” UA coach Tim Casey said. “The guys just played their hearts out. Our preparation was spot on, and we executed the game plan just as we drew it up. I can’t say enough about our performance.”
Upper Arlington will play for the title tonight against Lakewood St. Edward (25-2), which routed Cleveland East Tech 89-64.
Trotwood-Madison, which thrives on constant full-court pressure, jumped to a 12-6 lead in the first four minutes due to the dazzling pull-up jump shooting of All-Ohioan Dazhonetae Bennett, who finished with 23 points. Many wondered if the more-deliberate Golden Bears might get sucked into a run-and-gun affair that could favor the Rams, who came in scoring 87 points per game.
That didn’t happen. UA countered with an 18-0 run over the next 5:10, with guards Kevin Vannatta and Danny Hummer leading the charge. Vannatta scored eight straight points and Hummer capped the surge with a three-pointer to make it 24-12.
The Rams (25-3) never got closer.
“To be honest, it was a little surprising for us to be up by that amount,” Vannatta said. “We had a great deal of respect for them, and we knew they were capable of coming from way behind like they did against Cincinnati Moeller in the regional final. We just wanted to stay in an aggressive mindset.”
UA (27-1) used its motion offense to get a bevy of layups on back cuts and open drives through the lane.
“I think Upper Arlington is real good,” Trotwood-Madison coach Rocky Rockhold said. “They executed extremely well. We left the passing lanes open and left the back door open way too much. It comes down to a lack of mental focus. Maybe the kids got caught up in the atmosphere of the state thing.
“It’s not like we haven’t seen what they do. I liken them to Moeller without the big men. They’r e a team that runs their sets and they get the shots they want. If we had done our part on the offensive end, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.”
Vannatta finished with 25 points — his fifth straight game of 25 or more. Logan Richter scored 14 points and Hummer added 10 points, 10 assists and a team-high seven rebounds.
After the win, Casey turned his thoughts to Lakewood St. Edward.
“We’ll have to play really, really well to stay with these guys, but our guys will continue to believe and execute what we do,” he said. “St. Ed is by far the most-talented team we’ll see, but there’s a formula and we’ll try to find it by 8:30 tomorrow.”