BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — Even with only two games remaining in the regular season, the Maumee girls basketball team continues to draw out doubters and make them believers.
The Panthers hosted Genoa last week, with the Comets coming in tied for the lead in the Northern Buckeye Conference. Behind standout performances up and down the roster, Maumee took out Genoa, 43-41, before a boisterous and electric home crowd.
“That team’s first place in the NBC and we got after it, we fed off the energy,” said Panthers coach Rafael Soler. “I appreciate all the fans coming out, and I think they’re seeing good basketball. It was one of the coolest nights that I’ve been a part of at Maumee.”
Coupled with a tough 54-43 win over Bowsher later in the week, the Panthers improved to 13-7 overall and 8-4 in the conference, tied with Eastwood in the league standings, a game and a half behind Oak Harbor.
Maumee has contests at Lake this Thursday and against Eastwood on Thursday, February 15 left on its regular season schedule. At last Sunday’s tournament draw, the Panthers were seeded seventh and will travel to Wauseon on Thursday, February 22 for a Division II sectional tournament matchup.
“Hopefully we can keep it going. The girls want to keep it going,” Soler said. “We have more goals out ahead of us.”
In both wins last week, the Panthers were led by a complete team effort. Three players scored in double figures against the Blue Racers, and three players had at least seven rebounds against Genoa.
Through 20 games, Maumee has four players averaging at least four rebounds, four players averaging at least one assist and six players averaging at least one steal.
“We are playing some great team basketball,” Soler said after the Genoa game. “Everyone who played, scored. I don’t think we had multiple games where that happened in any of my other years. I think that’s the fourth game this year.
“We’re not forcing things, we’re picking our spots. We did a decent job of getting to the free-throw line. We’re trying to get there more and more, trying to get to the basket.”
Junior Lucy Porter continues to light up the scorebook. She scored 15 points against Bowsher and added 10 against Genoa, her first game back from concussion protocol.
Whereas in the past the bulk of the pressure and defensive attention fell on Porter, sophomore point guard Taylor Smith has stepped up this season. She had 11 points, four boards, four assists and two steals against Genoa, and she added 11 points and seven steals against Bowsher.
Soler said Smith’s growth from last year to this has been the biggest on the team.
“She’s playing such smart basketball, hard-nosed basketball,” Soler said. “Everything that she has been doing is just clicking. The sky’s the limit for her.
“She is one of our hardest workers on defense and our leader running the offense, all of the things you want out of a point guard. This season wouldn’t be what it is without Taylor.”
Megyn Calopietro had six points and seven boards against Genoa, while Izzy Yancy had three points and seven rebounds. Anna Zheng added four points and eight rebounds, and freshman Reign Hurt came off the bench to hit two clutch 3-pointers.
Yancy had a season-high 11 points against Bowsher, hitting 7-of-8 free throws. She also had four rebounds.
Calopietro had seven points and seven boards against the Racers, and Zheng added six points and five rebounds.