BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — Jaden Walker and Kyle Arndt made plenty of shots and were the top two scorers for Maumee against Oak Harbor, but it could be argued none were more important than their last shots.
If not more important, at least none were more dramatic.
The Panthers rallied from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter to top the visiting Rockets, 52-51, in a matchup of future Northern Buckeye Conference rivals.
The game came right down to the final buzzer. After Arndt pulled Maumee even at 51-51 with a 3-pointer from the left side with only a few seconds left, the Panthers forced a turnover on the Oak Harbor inbounds pass.
Maumee took possession after a timeout and the ball found Walker. He tried to put up a 3-pointer from in front of his own bench, and while the shot fell off the rim as the buzzer sounded, an Oak Harbor defender was whistled for the foul.
Walker stepped to the line with three chances to win the game, but he only needed the first shot.
“It’s been our Achilles (heel) all year, just not hitting those clutch shots in critical moments,” said MHS coach Ryan Osier. “That Northwood game (the previous week) was a tough loss, not only as a team but as a program.
“We came together as a team and asked those tough questions – What are we about? What do we want to be about? How are we going to finish the season?
“The last two-and-a-half minutes, the shots went our way. It’s easy when you’re winning to show so-called character, but when things aren’t going your way, what type of person are you?
“I can tell you all year, our guys love each other, they love basketball, they love the community. They want to put on a good show. That last two-and-a-half minutes was a heck of a show.”
Walker finished with a double-double, going for 21 points and 12 rebounds, while Arndt had 13 points, five assists and three steals.
Jayvon Hutchinson added six points and six boards, while Caden Brown had five points.
The Panthers made seven 3-pointers – three from Arndt, two from Walker and one each from Brown and Blake Wagener.
“It was nice seeing it go our way when we’ve had some losses by two points, overtime, that just didn’t go our way,” Osier said. “That was a huge win for us. We hadn’t won in the calendar year, but it helps us seeding-wise (in the district).”
Napoleon 58, MHS 46
Maumee rallied to score 35 points in the second half after a slow first half, but the Panthers couldn’t chip away at the Napoleon lead in a road league loss.
Arndt scored a season-high 21 points on 10-of-16 shooting. He added seven rebounds, five steals and two assists.
Hutchinson had seven points, shooting 3-of-5 from the floor, with 13 rebounds and two assists.
Walker, Brown and Ayden McCarthy each had six points.
The Panthers ended the week with a 5-12 overall record while they still search for the first Northern Lakes League win of the season (0-9).