By Jeremy Schneider
While starting out the season with a win would have been the best case scenario, there were enough positives from the girls basketball season opener at Genoa to give first-year coach Rafael Soler a reason to smile.
Not only is Maumee getting adjusted to a new coaching staff and everything that comes with it, but a late start for players helping the volleyball team win a district title and all the intricacies of COVID-19 put the program behind the 8-ball. And at least offensively, much of that showed up in the Panthers 37-17 loss to the Comets.
The Panthers limped out of the gates with two points in the first quarter and trailed 24-9 at halftime. And 23 turnovers in the game didn’t help matters, either.
“A lot of it was a new offense; we’re still learning it, so we’re still a half second to two or three seconds late on everything,” Soler said. “Their effort – – I’m never going to question that. They showed it out there on defense, it looked really good. The offense is going to come along.”
Sophomore Katelyn Owens — one of the volleyball players who helped lead the Panthers to a second straight Division II district title — led the team with 10 points and seven rebounds. She made three field goals and went 4-of-6 from the free throw line.
“Katelyn Owens showed her athleticism today,” Soler said. “We have to get our athletes the ball in better places. That’s going to come when we can handle the ball a little better. Our passing isn’t great right now. Handling pressure, handling the ball, when that comes together, this offense is going to start coming along and we can let our athletes be athletes.”
Of the 13 players on the Maumee varsity roster, nine played a fall sport. And of those athletes, three received postseason honors from the Northern Lakes League or district.
While acknowledging it will take some time to put all the pieces in place, Soler is confident the dedication and athletic abilities of his players will show up this season.
The season continues Tuesday when the Panthers travel to Anthony Wayne for a NLL showdown. The freshmen are scheduled to tipoff at 4:45, with JV at 6 p.m. and varsity at 7:15 p.m.
“These players have heart,” Soler said. “The seasons they’ve had in the past, for them to continue on with this, you can tell they love to play basketball. They’re really fighting for me. That’s all I can ask them to do.
“These girls want to be successful, they really do, and I want to put them in the right positions.”