MORGANTOWN — As the final seconds ticked down at University High between the Morgantown and University boys’ basketball teams, UHS head coach had a special greeting for his 6-foot-6 center.
As Mike Maumbe was subbed out after playing most of the 32 minutes Friday night at UHS, Schmidle made sure to tell him that he was proud of him.
“I love the kid to death — he’s a very special part of our team and I hope that this will give him a little bit of confidence,” said Schmidle following his team’s 55-41 win over the Mohigans. “He’s capable of playing even better than he played tonight. He’s getting better and that’s all we can ask.”
Maumbe finished with eight points and five rebounds, but most important, he was able to stay on the floor and out of foul trouble. The Hawks lack depth at center, so if Maumbe isn’t in the game, it can greatly affect how they operate and what Schmidle wants to do.
Maumbe was not in foul trouble at all against MHS, which is a sign of growing confidence offensively and defensively.
“Mike doesn’t understand how good he is and how valuable he is,” Schmidle said. “He’s so athletic and so quick for his size. He can do so many good things, but sometimes, there’s a mental block and a confidence thing.”
UHS (11-3) knew it needed Maumbe to step up this season with the loss of Storm Leftridge inside, and Maumbe knew the same.
His minutes were going to increase and his role expanded. so earning trust with his teammates was something he wanted to work on headed into this year.
Fourteen games into the season, Maumbe is reaping the fruits of his labor.
“I’m just getting more trust with my teammates and it’s starting to come together,” he said. “I know I have to play bigger and I’m still trying to figure out my role. I knew I was going to have a bigger role and it hasn’t come together the way I hoped, but I’m trying to improve every day, get better every day as a team and as a player.”
The Hawks, who won their eighth-straight over MHS (8-6) and nine out of 10, were led by point guard Kaden Metheny. The junior finished with 19 points, four assists and seven steals.
Rodney Bucklew had 12 points while K.J. McClurg rounded out the double-digit scorers for UHS with 11 points.
Sitting with three losses, including two in Myrtle Beach during Christmas break, Schmidle knows winning games in January is important for state and OVAC tournament seedings, so getting back on track with three-straight wins after a loss at Wheeling Park on Jan. 15 was critical.
UHS will travel to play Fort Hill (Md.) at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. In a previous matchup Dec. 20, the Hawks won 81-51 at UHS.