Maumee Girls Basketball Team Ends Season In Sectional Final

Maumee junior Hannah Binkowski scans the court in a game against the Rockets. MIRROR PHOTO BY JOE NEGRICH

BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — Coming into last week’s Division II girls basketball sectional final, Maumee had little to lose in its matchup with Oak Harbor. 

The Panthers had won three games all season and were being outscored by 24 points per game, but that doesn’t make the 28-22 loss to the Rockets any easier.

Maumee entered the game with a legitimate chance at winning the sectional title, cutting down the nets and bringing a trophy back to the school. It was a focus of the players and coaches all week, a way to put a bright ending on another difficult season.

According to Panthers coach Rafael Soler, the week prior to the Oak Harbor game was “the best week of practice that I have been a part of as a Maumee basketball coach.” The team installed new offensive sets and worked with a particular passion on defense.

“They were focused and ready for the game,” Soler said. “We had a lot of people step up this week and do whatever they could to get us prepared.

“The scout team worked so hard to run their offense and defense. Our coaches Kayla Taylor and Taylor Westrick played some scout team as well and really helped the girls get a good look at what they were going to see from Oak Harbor.

“Our JV coach Nick Porter did an amazing job scouting and helping install a game plan. Practice this week would not have been as successful without each one of these people playing their part.”

The Panthers led 8-3 after the first quarter on a last-second 3-pointer from Lucy Porter and they trailed by just one at halftime, down 11-10. Porter finished the first half with seven points.

Maumee kept the score within one possession through most of the third quarter and stayed close throughout the game thanks in large part to its defensive effort.

“Defense was a priority in practice all week and something they all took to heart,” Soler said. “This was by far the best defense they had played all year. They executed the game plan and above all worked as hard as possible throughout the game.”

The Panthers were ice cold on the other end of the court, however, shooting well below 20 percent from the field. 

“We definitely had some good looks that did not fall, but if nothing else it showed what we are capable of doing,” Soler said. “Some nights everything seems to be working, but the ball just doesn’t go in the basket. They did exactly what we asked them to do offensively, but you have to score to win and we didn’t do that.”

Maumee ended its season with a 3-20 record, posting wins over Scott, Ottawa Hills and Rossford. It was also the last game in purple and gold for seniors Evelynn Schneider, Beverly O’Neill and Autumn Miller.

Soler said he will remember a lot from this season, but a few things do stand out.

“The grit and perseverance of this team are unlike anything I have seen before,” he said. “We had some ups and downs but for the most part stuck together and really wanted to have a good year for each other.

“I am going to remember the seniors for leaving the program in a better place than when they started. They mean so much to me and to this team.

“I also think our underclassmen grew up a lot this year. We have a lot of young talent that gained a lot of varsity experience. I think if we can take some of this momentum into the offseason, we can compete with a lot of teams next year.”

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