Maumee Girls Basketball Reaches 10 Wins With Victories Over Otsego And Fostoria

Maumee sophomore Taylor Smith takes a shot against Otsego. MIRROR PHOTO BY JOE NEGRICH

BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — On a night when the Maumee girls basketball program honored its past and recognized its future, the current Panthers once again showed they’re a team to not be taken lightly.

Maumee won its fourth straight game – all in the Northern Buckeye Conference – with a 38-27 win over visiting Fostoria on Saturday night. Earlier in the week, the Panthers cruised past Otsego, 45-27.

The wins moved Maumee to 10-5 overall and 7-3 in the conference. The Panthers entered the week tied with Eastwood for second place in the NBC, half a game behind Genoa and Oak Harbor.

The 10 wins are a high-water mark for Maumee under fourth-year varsity coach Rafael Soler.

“This team has just come together so much,” Soler said. “It has a little to do with X’s and O’s, but I think the team support they have for each other, they don’t care who scores, who gets in the paper, all of that. They’re doing it for each other.

“These girls have finally figured out how to play for each other.”

Before facing Fostoria, Maumee recognized former coach Marty Kalmbach, who was the guest of honor at a dinner in the Performing Arts Center lobby. At halftime, members of the Maumee Middle School girls basketball teams and younger players were brought onto the court to be recognized.

Maumee came out slowly in both games last week only to stomp on the gas pedal in the second and third quarters.

Against the Knights, the Panthers trailed 3-2 after one quarter before pushing out to a 35-20 lead after three stanzas, and they were behind the Redmen 6-4 after one only to lead 24-20 after three.

During those middle-quarter runs, Maumee turned to junior Lucy Porter and sophomore Taylor Smith. They combined to score 18 of the 20 points in those frames against Fostoria and 20 of the 22 against Otsego.

“We make small adjustments, but it’s also the team, Coach (Nick) Porter, everybody’s firing each other up,” Soler said of the third-quarter runs. “There are times where it looks like we’re relaxed in that first quarter, trying to get into the flow, but as soon as we start doing the little things … it starts to come together.

“I don’t think we’ve played a full game yet. When we do that, I think we can be a dangerous team.”

Porter had another double-double against the Knights, going for 17 points and 10 rebounds, along with five assists and two steals. She added 11 points, nine boards, five assists and five steals against the Redmen.

Smith led the way with 16 points against Fostoria, also coming away with five steals, four rebounds and two assists. She had 11 points, five rebounds and two steals against Otsego.

“(Lucy) is seeing the floor so well,” Soler said. “Maybe before, it was seeing scoring, and that’s what scorers do. I think she is seeing not only the first option but the second and third options, different things that can work out of our offense.

“(Taylor) is not thinking anymore. It’s not so much in her head, it’s, ‘I’m just playing basketball now.’ She’s having fun, she’s being aggressive in the right spots. This team runs through Taylor, and right now everybody is feeding off of her.

“We need every single person out there on that floor. They know what their roles are. It’s starting to jell together. I hope it keeps going because we’re on the right path.”

After a non-league matchup at Ottawa Hills on Tuesday of this week, the Panthers hit the road again to face first-place Oak Harbor; the Rockets won the first meeting, 31-20. 

Maumee hosts Genoa on Thursday, February 1 and Eastwood on Thursday, February 15. 

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