BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MHS BASKETBALL
Wauseon 71, Maumee 34
The glimpses of what Maumee girls basketball coach Rafael Soler wants to see are there, but the Panthers are still waiting on a complete four quarters.
In a last-minute fill-in for a postponed game against Springfield, the Panthers took on non-league foe Wauseon and fell 71-34 on December 1.
The Panthers (0-3) had moments to cheer – including 3-pointers from juniors Peyton Phillips and Jessica Roper – but it wasn’t nearly enough against a polished Indians squad.
“A lot of little things, a lot of little things that show up big when you do them over and over again,” Soler said. “We saw flashes, but again, it’s missing layups, it’s missing someone by a couple of inches on the pass. So, it’s those things, it’s going to take time.”
Maumee had balanced scoring, with Phillips, Roper, Katelyn Owens and Haley Hughes all scoring six points. Sydney Bischoff had five points.
One name not mentioned in the scoring was Taylor Westrick, but the junior guard made her presence felt on the defensive end. After Indians standout Marisa Seiler scored 27 points in the first half, Westrick held her to nine after being switched on Seiler in the second half.
“She played really hard,” Soler said. “It’s that kind of effort that’s going to start hopefully snowballing and getting everyone to work just as hard as Taylor.
“Taylor is not very vocal, but she leads by example. Every single time, she’s going to be doing the right thing. The girls all see it, they see what she’s doing.”
The Panthers had one more game, against Northview, before their season was paused by order of the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department. All Lucas County athletic teams are forbidden from practicing or playing in school facilities from December 4 until January 11.
Maumee’s coaching staff has a Google Classroom set up for the program, where they will post workouts and videos. Soler said the team will virtually come together to watch film of Gonzaga, which runs the same offense as Maumee.
Most importantly, Soler wants his players to realize there is a season after the board of health’s order ends in January.
“We’re trying to do the virtual thing and keep them as active as we can, because we’ve got this season when we come back,” Soler said. “The (Northern Lakes League) has done a good job of putting it together so quickly.”
Northview 77, Maumee 28
In their last game before the health department-imposed pause in the season, the Maumee girls basketball team fought hard and fell to a super-talented Northview team 77-28 on December 3.
Despite the lopsided final score – this year, the Panthers have been outscored 293-110 in four games – Panthers coach Rafael Soler felt his team continued to show improvement under the new staff.
“This is the worst time for us to have this break, because I feel like we’re getting some momentum, we’re hitting a stride here that it looks like it’s going to start clicking,” Soler said. “It’s a lot of technique. It’s staring down people when making that pass. We’ve got to be more savvy. That’s going to come with playing.”
Make no mistake, the Wildcats are among the class of the Northern Lakes League, led by reigning league player of the year Kacee Baumhower. That power, finesse and experience showed through against Maumee.
“That is a very good team we just played. They’re going to exploit your weaknesses and point out everything you’re not strong on and confident on,” Soler said. “We didn’t give up too many baskets inside, they were just hitting a lot of shots.
“I couldn’t be prouder of their effort. We didn’t quit. We fought through adversity.”
Katelyn Owens scored a season-high 10 points with two rebounds and one steal to lead the Panthers. Haley Hughes added seven points, four rebounds and two steals.
Jessica Roper had five points with a team-high seven rebounds, and Taylor Westrick added four points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals.
“One thing that I was really intrigued by was the whole bench, every time we scored, every time we did something on defense, everybody is getting up and we’re excited,” Soler said. “As a program, that’s going to keep building on itself.”
Not only is the coaching staff new to varsity, the roster is overwhelmingly young as well. Roper and Westrick are both juniors, and Owens and Hughes are sophomores. Of the six players who logged double-digit minutes for Maumee against Northview, four were juniors and two sophomores.
“We told them that from the beginning, we are young, we are inexperienced, this is going to be a two-year process, probably,” Soler said. “It has to start somewhere. I think there were more positives than negatives.”