BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — The calendar had only flipped to June earlier in the day, but when the Maumee boys basketball team took the court at the Rossford Summer League last Wednesday, coach Ryan Osier was surprised by what he saw.
“There were a lot of things that I saw … that were like, ‘Wow, we’re already right here? That’s a nice thing,’” he said.
Coming off the most successful season in recent years, the Panthers boys basketball players are approaching this summer schedule with more to prove.
In addition to the Rossford games, which run through the end of June, they’ll head to a shootout in Tiffin and another at Elmwood, and they’ll host St. Francis for an open gym. Maumee also hosted Southview for an open gym last weekend.
“Our guys don’t just want to get on the court and play, they want to get better,” Osier said. “They want to end their time in the (Northern Lakes League) not just competing, but really making a strong stance.
“We set the tone back in our open gyms – if you’re on the court, you’re going to be getting after it. Our leadership with Kyle Arndt and Jaden Walker and Jayvon (Hutchinson), they are pushing the younger guys and pushing each other.”
The Panthers varsity team will play 20-25 games this summer, while the junior varsity team has 12-16 games on its schedule. Even the freshman team has around 10 games to play.
At last week’s Rossford games, Maumee had more than 20 players show up – nine for varsity and 12 for JV.
Osier knows that with busy summer family schedules and other commitments, it will be a hodgepodge of players who can show up to any given game. Even that is a good thing for the health of the program, though.
“One message we are trying to make clear is when you’re on the team, every player is vital to the program, whether you get playing time or not,” Osier said. “The more they know, the better they are and the better we become.
“If you are better than someone else, you’re going to play. When you say, ‘What is the summer about?’ it’s about competitiveness. It’s about getting people back together.”
Excitement for basketball at Maumee isn’t building only at the high school level. The program hosted its youth camp last week as well. Osier wasn’t able to be there while the varsity team was competing at Rossford, so he turned the camp over to second-year coach Josh Garmon.
“Let me take a 30,000-foot view here – I think Maumee athletics is really kicking into gear,” Osier said. “If you look at the camps, how many kids are playing soccer, how many kids are playing volleyball, how many kids are playing football and basketball, there seems to be a real revival in Maumee athletics.
“That starts from the coaches and the community and obviously our athletic department.”
That excitement inside the boys basketball program spread to the community last year. Osier wants the work this summer and in the offseason to turn into more wins, leading to even more excitement in the schools and community.
“We want to win,” Osier said. “We were in games last year, and I know there is excitement in the community, but there were also a lot of missed opportunities.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day. We’ve always had kids at Maumee who could play basketball. What I think is different is we’ve got more kids now who can play basketball.
“We’ve tried to do things over the years to build excitement and build into the multi-sport thought, where it’s not just basketball, it’s Maumee.”