BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — It was another classic basketball game, a feast for fans in the stands.
Unfortunately for the Maumee boys team, it was another close loss in a Northern Lakes League game.
Despite leading for most of the game, the Panthers let the lead slip away late and fell to Southview, 57-52. It was their fifth NLL game decided by fewer than 10 points this season, with three of those ending up in the loss column.
“That one’s hard,” said Maumee coach Ryan Osier. “We had them. We had a great game plan, we did everything right.
“The fact that one of our better players was home sick and we had other guys step up and give them everything they could handle for three quarters, it was right there. That one hurts.”
The Panthers led 43-37 entering the final quarter and controlled every facet of the game. In that fourth quarter, though, the Cougars ratcheted up the pressure and outscored Maumee 20-9.
The Panthers were playing shorthanded, with starting guard Kyle Arndt not available. As Osier pointed out, having his ball-handling skills available would have made a huge difference.
“We’ve got to be able to handle pressure,” Osier said. “Kyle not being there in that situation, that would have been a big help, but other guys have to step up.”
R.J. McCoy scored 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting to lead Maumee. Jayvon Hutchinson added 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting, with five rebounds.
Cole Graetz had eight points, seven boards, six assists and three steals.
The Panthers hit 18-of-30 from the field (60 percent), including a 3-of-6 mark from behind the 3-point arc.
Since the start of 2022, Maumee has lost close league games to Anthony Wayne and Bowling Green – both by three points – with single-digit wins over Napoleon and Springfield.
But just being close isn’t good enough anymore, according to Osier.
“We’re not settling for being in games anymore,” he said. “There’s no more shocking the world. It’s disappointing if we don’t win because we work hard and we’re good enough to win.”
With four league games on the docket to close out the regular season, Osier is confident his team can answer the call.
“If it’s one thing I know from our team, we’ll learn from it. We’ll get better,” Osier said.