Upper Arlington claims title in Great 8 Classic

This result was never in doubt.

Upper Arlington of Columbus, Ohio, cemented the estimation of the majority of observers who thought it was clearly the best team in the Joe Machens Great 8 Classic by cruising to the championship Sunday night.

The Golden Bears captured their third straight double-digit victory in the event by handling Louisville (Ky.) Western 46-34 in the title contest at Fleming Fieldhouse.

Kevin Vannatta, the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, led Upper Arlington to the victory by pumping in 24 points. He connected on 7-of-12 shots from the field, 9-of-12 from the line and also collected a team-high six rebounds.

Upper Arlington (6-1) trailed just once Sunday night, that at 2-0. The Golden Bears struck back with three straight layups, the last one part of a three-point play by Vannatta, to take a 7-2 lead and they never looked back.

The lead was 12-7 at the end of the first period and grew to 20-9 with 3:08 left before halftime when Logan Richter made a layup.

The Golden Bears led 22-13 at halftime.

Upper Arlington’s biggest lead of the night was 15 points, on two different occasions in the third quarter. The first came at 32-17 on a pair of free throws by Vannatta, the next at 34-19 on a layup by Wes Davis.

Upper Arlington’s lead was 34-21 after three quarters, but Louisville Western (6-4) tried to make one last push in the fourth quarter.

The Warriors got the lead down to nine points four different times in the first three minutes of the final stanza, but couldn’t get any closer.

Kittrell Withers led Louisville Western with 14 points and Terrell Howard had 10, while Chris McCraw grabbed a game-high seven rebounds.

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