Story and photo by Daniel Mohrmann
The Manitou Springs girls basketball team closed out last week with a pair of strong performances to bring its record back to over .500.
The Mustangs were dominant in a 56-14 win over Pueblo Centennial on Jan. 11, before holding off a late surge from Salida to get a 42-41 win two days later.
Grace Allen led the offensive output in both games, scoring 24 points against the Bulldogs and 26 against the Spartans.
The Mustangs (6-5 overall, 4-1 Tri-Peaks) got key moments of support in both contests. McKesson Rhodes scored 14 points in the win against Centennial and, when the Mustangs needed it most, Cassidy Blechman knocked down a timely 3-pointer to keep the game out of reach for Salida.
“That’s something I need to reiterate to the girls on the bench,” coach Juliana Argyle said. “Being focused and ready to hit those kinds of shots is key for us. You don’t have to be a starting player to have value in those situations.”
Allen has been the best offensive player for the Mustangs all season, but if the team is going to continue to fight for a top spot in the league standings, they’re going to need to see the level of support that they saw against Centennial and Salida last week.
“It’s important that we have everyone doing their best,” Kaleena Jones said. “Our bench is important and having those key players doing their best is important when it comes to winning these games, especially on defense.”
The competition for the Mustangs doesn’t figure to slow down anytime soon. Games against Vanguard, Lamar and Alamosa loom in the coming weeks, and the big challenge for the Mustangs is going to be seeing those support roles play out on both sides of the ball.
Defensively, the girls have certainly held their own but, as Allen continues to put up solid scoring numbers, it’ll be crucial for other players to knock down key shots like Blechman did against Salida.
“That’s been a conversation all season, especially in our league games,” Argyle said. “Teams are going to start doubling Grace more and we need to have everyone on the bench and everyone in the starting five contribute on the offensive end.”
The Mustangs are at home Friday, Jan. 20, when they take on Ellicott at 5:30 p.m.