By Jeremy Schneider
In their last game before the Lucas County Board of Health-imposed pause in the season, the Maumee girls basketball team fought hard and fell to a super-talented Northview team 77-28.
But despite the lopsided final score — this year, the Panthers have been outscored 293-110 in four games — Panthers coach Rafael Soler felt his team continued to show improvement under the new staff.
“This is the worst time for us to have this break, because I feel like we’re getting some momentum, we’re hitting a stride here that it looks like it’s going to start clicking,” Soler said. “It’s a lot of technique. It’s staring down people when making that pass. We’ve got to be more savvy. That’s going to come with playing.”
Make no mistake, the Wildcats are among the class of the Northern Lakes League, led by reigning league player of the year Kacee Baumhower. And that power, finesse, and experience showed through against Maumee.
“That is a very good team we just played. They’re going to exploit your weaknesses and point out everything you’re not strong on and confident on,” Soler said. “We didn’t give up too many baskets inside, they were just hitting a lot of shots.
“I couldn’t be prouder of their effort. We didn’t quit. We fought through adversity.”
Katelyn Owens scored a season-high 10 points with two rebounds and one steal to lead the Panthers. Haley Hughes added seven points, four rebounds, and two steals.
Jessica Roper had five points with a team-high seven rebounds, and Taylor Westrick added four points, two rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
“One thing that I was really intrigued by was the whole bench, every time we scored, every time we did something on defense, everybody is getting up and we’re excited,” Soler said. “As a program, that’s going to keep building on itself.”
Not only is the coaching staff new to varsity, the roster is overwhelmingly young as well. Roper and Westrick are both juniors, and Owens and Hughes are sophomores. Of the six players who logged double-digit minutes for Maumee against Northview, four were juniors and two sophomores.
“We told them that from the beginning, we are young, we are inexperienced, this is going to be a two-year process, probably,” Soler said. “It has to start somewhere. I think there were more positives than negatives.”