By Daniel Mohrmann
After winning four of its past five games, the Manitou Springs boys basketball is picking up momentum with the regular season reaching its home stretch.
The Mustangs (11-4 overall, 6-2 Tri-Peaks) rolled to a 70-48 win over Banning Lewis on Jan. 26 and have seemingly settled into their general game plans on a day-to-day basis. Lairden Rogge again paced the team offensively with 29 points, while John Maynard added 23. The Mustangs were also solid defensively, holding their opponent to less than 50 points for the seventh time this season.
With the move to Class 4A this year, the Mustangs won’t be playing in the Tri-Peaks district tournament and will instead roll right into the 4A state tournament. Rather than jockeying for position in the league standings, they’re trying to improve their position in the Colorado High School Activities Association’s selection and seeding index. The destination might be different, but the Mustangs won’t deviate off their path to get there.
“We just want to keep using the same process,” coach Brian Vecchio said. “The way we prepare for an opponent doesn’t change, no matter if it’s a league game or a non-league game.”
That method has been working for the better part of three weeks and will hopefully continue through the next two weeks until the regular season ends.
We just have to keep doing what we do.
— Andrew Rhodes
When the results continue to be favorable on the scoreboard, the team hasn’t had any qualms about buying into the process and trusting that what they’re doing will pay dividends.
“For us, it’s just playing our game each and every day,” Andrew Rhodes said. “We can’t switch it up and we think about it too much. We just have to keep doing what we do.”
As of Feb. 1, the Mustangs sit at No. 17 in the selection and seeding index. Several tough opponents remain, including league games against Vanguard and Woodland Park and non-league games against Alamosa and The Classical Academy.
This final stretch of the season will be crucial for the team’s position in the 4A state bracket.
“We’re just trying to rack up as many wins as we can in the regular season,” Vecchio said.
And getting there will require more of the effort the team has put forward in the past several weeks. The Mustangs have shown they have the ability to ride a hot hand offensively if a player like Rogge is shooting well or Maynard is dominating in the post.
But when supplemental attacks from guys like Rhodes or Nate Gentzel have materialized, the Mustangs have looked every bit the part of a playoff team.
“It’s a team mindset,” Rhodes said. “We just have to prepare for each game one at a time.”
The Mustangs headed to Florence on Feb. 1 and host Lamar on Friday, Feb. 3.