By Jeremy Schneider
It might go down as a second loss to open the season for the Maumee girls basketball team, but according to coach Rafael Soler, it was a definite step in the right direction.
The Panthers took to the road for the second straight game to open the season, facing Northern Lakes League foe Anthony Wayne. The Generals used balanced scoring and transition offense to roll to a 68-31 win Tuesday night.
Just three nights after posting 17 points in a loss at Genoa, Maumee (0-2) found a little more sure footing in its new offense and nearly doubled the scoring output against AW.
“The difference in our offense was all about the execution of the plays,” Soler said. “We actually ran the offense and got some decent looks out of it. I am also intrigued by the way they showed no fear out there. I saw less hesitation, more aggression to the basket, and taking open shots.”
Soler said the Panthers need to finish at the rim better, and that wasn’t the only sore spot against the Generals — they went 3-for-16 on foul shots.
Maumee also coughed up 26 turnovers, giving them 49 in two games. However, Soler saw a difference in where the turnovers happened on Tuesday as opposed to the first game.
“This game compared to last game we had more turnovers because we were trying to score instead of turnovers while trying to get into the offense,” Soler said. “I can live with those for right now, especially if they do not result in easy points on the other end.”
He also mentioned the role his starting backcourt of juniors Sydney Bischoff and Taylor Westrick play in setting the tone on offense. Against the Generals, the two combined for eight turnovers, down from 10 against Genoa.
Bischoff and fellow junior Jessica Roper each had seven points. Roper had three rebounds, and Westrick had a team-high six.
A pair of sophomores came up with strong performances. Katelyn Owens led the Panthers in scoring for the second straight game, totaling eight points with four boards. Haley Hughes came off the bench to get six points and six rebounds.
“Kate is an athlete and will be faster, stronger, and jump higher than a lot of people we play this year. We need to figure out how to get her the ball in better situations,” Soler said. “Haley took a huge step forward this game and that is the most aggressive I have ever seen her play.”
According to Soler, the fortunes of the Panthers rest at least partly with how those two sophomores perform this year.
“If we are going to be successful this year and in the future, a lot of that will be decided by the play of these two,” Soler said. “I think the word ‘grit’ really showed up in a lot of the play last night and showed that we may be starting to understand what is necessary to compete at the varsity level.”
Kelsey Ragan led 10 Anthony Wayne scorers with 10 points. Jenna Rybicki had eight points, including a 4-for-5 night at the free throw line. The Generals went 11-of-17 from the stripe.