BY J. PATRICK EAKEN | MIRROR SPORTS — After several weeks off due to shutdown restrictions, Northern Lakes League rivals Maumee and Anthony Wayne squared off in boys basketball on January 13.
“It’s good to be back. We’ve been doing a lot of practicing, but not a lot of playing,” said AW 6-foot-3 senior guard Garret Pike.
AW’s fast start was too much for the Panthers, and the Generals won 56-43 at the Dick Albaugh Physical Education and Athletic Center.
Because the NLL has reduced its league schedule to single round robin, last week’s matchup was a non-league game with the league contest to be decided on Friday, February 5 at Maumee.
AW is currently 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the NLL. Maumee is 0-4 and 0-1.
AW’s impressive first quarter resulted in a 12-2 lead. Maumee battled back in the second quarter, cutting the lead to one with two minutes before halftime.
However, AW closed out the second quarter on a 9-2 run to take a 25-17 halftime lead.
After halftime, both teams played hard as they traded baskets the rest of the night. In the end, AW secured the win by hitting 9 of 15 from the free-throw line and had just seven turnovers to Maumee’s 13.
AW was led by senior guard Dominic Debo, who scored all 14 of his points in the second half, plus he pulled down five rebounds.
“It was just teammates moving the ball and everything like that,” Debo said. “I couldn’t have gotten it without them. They were driving, kicking it out and stuff like that.
“‘E.A.’ (senior guard Evan Anderson) stepped up big-time today. He was going to the basket really well,” Debo continued.
Anderson not only had a team high in assists, he also had a double-double 10 points, 10 rebounds and four steals, and junior guard Jacob Copley scored nine points.
AW’s top returning leading scorer, Pike, was held to seven points, plus he had two steals on defense. However, the team’s win was more important to Pike than reaching double figures.
“It was a good team win. I thought we shared the ball well and played well,” Pike said.
AW coach Josh Arthur added, “We did not have that one fantastic outing today, but they were all over Garret Pike. They weren’t going to let him drive the lane – they weren’t going to let him do anything.
“Plus, we missed a couple shots in the first half – if we make those shots, it’s going to be a different ballgame going into halftime.
“Credit goes to them (Maumee) – I thought they played really well. They moved the ball on offense, they cut well and they were good in how they executed.”
Both coaches said they were glad just to be back on the basketball court after the Lucas County Health Department suspended sports for over a month.
“It feels great. We are playing basketball and that is all that counts,” said Arthur. “These guys do it together. They go into it for one another, they practice together and they just want to play together.”
Maumee coach Ryan Osier says he saw “great passion” in his club, led by Aaron Roberts Jr.’s inspiring defense.
“This team is a lot of fun to coach. They work hard and they are coming together. Anthony Wayne is a very good team and we competed with them all night. I am very proud of our guys,” Osier said.
“After having five weeks off, it’s fun just to be on the court. Our guys, and you can tell with those guys, too, we love coming to Anthony Wayne and being in the NLL,” Osier continued.
“But it’s heartbreaking when you are down 12-2 to an outstanding team like Anthony Wayne. But we did – we clawed back, we were there and we were constantly pushing them.
“So, I’m very proud of my guys. It was a great learning experience and hopefully we get right back at it,” Osier added.
Maumee was led in scoring by sophomore point guard Jaden Walker with 13 points, five rebounds and five assists in 35 minutes of play.
Maumee junior shooting guard Aaron Roberts Jr. scored nine points, hitting three of four three-point shots and he had three rebounds in 20 minutes of play.
Junior shooting forward R.J. McCoy Jr. scored seven points and had two assists in 20 minutes of play.
Both teams shot reasonably well from the field, with the Generals making 21 of 45 shots (46.7 percent) and the Panthers made 19 of 42 (45.2). The Panthers got just four free-throw attempts, making two.
AW’s 6-foot-5 senior forward T.J. Winston had six points and six rebounds, helping AW to a 29-25 advantage off the glass.
AW senior forward Evan Ruhe scored five points, sophomore guard Parker Schofield scored three and senior forward Luke Trost had two points.
For the Panthers, junior power forward Cole Graetz had five points and six rebounds and sophomore shooting forward Michael Dembski scored five.
Senior point guard Reed Geiger and senior power forward Mike Pacer added two points each for Maumee.
This Friday, Anthony Wayne returns to NLL action, visiting preseason league coaches’ favorite Perrysburg (5-5, 1-0). On Tuesday, January 26, AW hosts Napoleon (8-3, 0-1) in an NLL encounter.
“We need to take a couple mistakes and correct them in practice over the next few days and we’ll be ready to go,” Arthur said.
“Now, we go back into league play, so we have to be ready for a big week – we’ve got one game next week, but it’s Perrysburg,” Arthur continued.
“It’s always fun to go into Perrysburg for basketball, so it’s time to start prepping up on Monday.”
Maumee had non-league tilts with Perrysburg (Rossford’s Martin Luther King Day event) on January 18 and Liberty Center (4-7) on January 19.
On Friday, Maumee hosts Bowling Green (4-6, 1-0) in an NLL contest.