BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — After losing its second straight game to open the season, Maumee girls basketball coach Rafael Soler was frustrated with how his team lost.
In some ways, having legitimate frustrations over what could have been a winnable game is a mark of progress for a team mired in a losing streak that reaches back nearly two years.
Soler’s frustrations and belief the Panthers were in a position to win, however, are completely real. Bowling Green won the Northern Lakes League game, 55-34, mostly thanks to a lethargic start from the Panthers.
The Bobcats posted a 20-4 lead after the first quarter and expanded it before Maumee put its offense in gear. After that first quarter, the Panthers were outscored only 25-20.
“We played right with them and even beat them in some quarters,” Soler said. “It’s one of those things, I’m going to keep challenging them in practice. If you don’t see that speed or intensity in practice, it’s going to throw you off once you get into a game.
“We look inexperienced right now. It looks like everything is too fast for us. I hope that’s something that can be remedied by repetition.”
Freshman guard Lucy Porter scored six of her team-high 12 points in the second quarter, including a 3-pointer from the right wing. The guard continues to give glimpses of her tremendous potential only two games into her high school career.
“They’re going to have to do something, put in special defenses to watch out for her because she is special,” Soler said. “It’s so impressive to watch her. It’s her second varsity game … but right now, she doesn’t have the opportunity to be a freshman.
“She’s got to come in there and be a varsity player right now. She’s taken that role on and she loves it, which is something you want to see in a player like that, not backing down to the pressure.”
Seven players scored for Maumee (0-2 overall, 0-1 NLL), including seven points for Jessica Roper and four each from Sky Janes and Evelynn Schneider.
The Panthers outscored BG 19-18 in the second and third quarters, holding the Bobcats to only four points in the third.
“I think that’s going to be our main thing all year – we’re not going to play well unless our defense is playing well,” Soler said. “I challenged them in the locker room. I told them that this was the situation, it doesn’t matter what happened before, we have to execute from here on out.
“I’ll never question their heart, their effort, but it’s got to be from the start. We can’t just turn it on. That was the big problem tonight – the start.”
Maumee closed out the game with 17 points in the fourth, going 7-of-9 from the free throw line.
Lola Thompson scored six of her game-high 14 points in the fourth for the Bobcats (1-1, 1-0 NLL).
After they come back from the Thanksgiving break, the road gets considerably steeper for the Panthers. They host Perrysburg and defending Division II state champion Napoleon, and have games at Anthony Wayne and Northview, which advanced to last year’s D-I regional tournament.
While wins in those games may seem unattainable, Soler knows there are chances for wins on this year’s schedule. And just maybe, his players are starting to buy into that, too.
“We can play with these girls,” Soler said. “We just have to believe it.”
Lilly Duling scored a game-high 10 points as the Panthers JV team improved to 2-0 with a 29-13 win at Bowling Green.
Duling scored eight points after halftime, when Maumee held a 20-7 scoring edge. Ava Leonard had six of her eight points in the second half.