BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — It was one of those best-case-scenario sequences that actually worked.
The Maumee boys basketball team had given up its lead to Springfield on February 8 and watched as the Blue Devils continued to build a lead late in the fourth quarter.
Trailing by six with less than a minute to play, the home Panthers needed buckets and plenty of luck to steal the season series and a Northern Lakes League win.
They got both.
With one flick of his wrist, Caden Brown put the finishing touches on a memorable comeback effort, pushing Maumee to a 46-44 win on a last-second 3-pointer.
After the Blue Devils missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free-throw chance, the Panthers pulled within one point as Cole Graetz bullied a smaller defender on the block and scored with eight seconds to play.
Maumee needed some more luck as it immediately fouled to stop the clock. Fortune shined once again as Springfield missed another free throw.
Jayvon Hutchinson grabbed the rebound and quickly found Kyle Arndt on the outlet pass. Arndt pushed the ball up the right side.
After taking a couple steps inside the 3-point line, Arndt stopped, swiveled in mid-air and found Brown at the top of the key. With Blue Devil defenders in his face, Brown calmly squared up and released a shot as the clock raced below one second.
“As soon as it left his hand, I knew it was going in,” said Maumee coach Ryan Osier.
The basket set off a celebration on the court and in the locker room for the Panthers, who had lost three straight by a total of 23 points.
“Kudos to Kyle. We don’t spend a lot of time practicing this situation, but we talk about what to do and Kyle read that beautifully,” Osier said. “The play would have more of a hesitation, get to the rim and try to get a foul, but what a great unselfish play by Kyle.”
It was the second thrilling finish in the series this season, following an overtime win for the Panthers just a few weeks prior.
Maumee has now won three of its last five NLL games. In 11 league contests this season, the Panthers have been outscored by only 88 points, or eight per game. Take away blowout losses to Perrysburg and Northview, and that per-game difference shrinks to four points.
“They are fighting, clawing,” Osier said of Springfield. “There is no bad team in the NLL. You know someone’s got to lose, you’re giving it everything you’ve got. That’s the price you pay for being in the NLL and fortunately for us, it came out for us in the end.”
Arndt finished with a team-high 14 points, hitting a pair of 3-pointers. He added three steals and two assists.
Graetz had 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Brown and Hutchinson each added six points and combined for seven total rebounds.
The Blue Devils held Jaden Walker and R.J. McCoy to eight points on 3-of-9 shooting.
In his previous five games, McCoy had averaged more than 13 points per, including 11 in the first meeting with the Blue Devils.
Despite not making an impact in the scoring column, Osier said McCoy did a great job influencing the game in other ways.
“He came out with some energy and did a great job defensively,” Osier said. “You don’t get tested when things go your way, you get tested when they don’t. He kept his head up.
“I know it’s frustrating for him to be a senior and against Springfield – he knows those kids over there – and yet he kept his chin up. He proved who he is tonight.”
The Panthers didn’t have much time to celebrate the win with a pair of season-ending tilts against Anthony Wayne and Northview looming.
“It never ends in the NLL,” Osier said.