We’ve had some leaders really start to emerge. – coach Brian Vecchio
Story and photo by Daniel Mohrmann
There’s typically a moment with some athletes when a switch has flipped and the competitive fire they exude can almost be seen. For the Manitou Springs boys basketball team, that fire might’ve been lit in a 90-66 win over rival St. Mary’s on Jan. 18.
The Pirates play a fast-paced style game but the Mustangs (10-4 overall, 5-2 Tri-Peaks) embraced that speed and dominated on both ends of the floor. The Pirates got out to hot start from 3-point range but cooled off in the second quarter, allowing Manitou to run away with the win.
The Mustangs followed up that performance with a 72-60 win over Ellicott two days later.
“One thing they’ve done all year is, they’ve done a good job competing as a team,” coach Brian Vecchio says. “We’re continuing to grow and we’ve had some leaders really start to emerge. Lairden [Rogge] has done a really good job for us. He’s getting a lot of guys to join him in that regard.”
One of the noticeable differences in the past two games is Andrew Rhodes starting to get his feel on the offensive side of the ball. He has struggled in shooting from 3-point range, but against St. Mary’s he created other scoring opportunities for himself as he scored half of his 18 points from the free throw line.
He added a 15-point performance against Ellicott to give the Mustangs a great complementary scoring threat in addition to Rogge and John Maynard.
“He gives us good minutes,” Vecchio says. “The best thing that Andrew brings to what he does is that he’s competitive and he won’t be outworked. You can always live with a mistake here or there, but somebody who’s as competitive as he is brings a lot to the team.”
Rogge gave Justin Armour’s single-game scoring record a scare against St. Mary’s as he finished the night with 37 points, just four shy of tying Armour. He added 30 against La Junta. Maynard has also been good offensively, scoring 18 in the win over the Pirates and 21 in the win over the Thunderhawks.
Those performances are helping to build confidence up and down the roster. Players like Evan Yount, Sam Fournier and Tyler Maloney are giving quality minutes off the bench, understanding that their efforts are just as crucial to the Mustangs’ two best games this season.
“[The starters] bring a ton of energy and I have that energy on the bench,” Fournier says. “When I get in, I’m excited to play and I’m ready to bring that energy and give those guys a breather.”
The Mustangs host Banning Lewis on Thursday, Jan. 26.