Mustang girls battling with 4A state tournament on the horizon

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Sami Benge-Kulzer, right, faces an opponent during an early January game. (File photo)

We need to believe in ourselves. — Grace Allen

With the playoffs right around the corner, the Manitou Springs girls basketball team is continuing to battle for solid playoff placement.

As of Feb. 15, the Mustangs were sitting at No. 23 in the CHSAA Selection and Seeding Index, which populates the playoff field. The regular season concludes for all teams on Saturday, Feb. 18, with the state playoff brackets released on Sunday.

The Mustangs (10-11 overall, 7-6 Tri-Peaks) cruised to a 49-21 win over Rye on Feb. 11 before falling to Alamosa 38-22 on Tuesday, Feb. 14. It was their second loss to the Mean Moose this season.

“I’m not too concerned about [the Alamosa loss], I’m still all right, still happy with our current seed,” coach Juliana Argyle says. “Alamosa is a good, competitive, physical team and we just didn’t have some shots fall for us.”

A seesaw battle in the first half sent the Mustangs into the locker room with a 12-11 lead, but they simply ran out of gas as shots started falling for the Mean Moose.

“This was a confidence booster since they were ranked pretty highly,” Grace Allen says. “We need to believe in ourselves because I know our coaches believe in us. But our confidence needs to come from those of us on the court.”

Allen collected two more double-doubles on the season. In the win over Rye, she scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and against Alamosa, she scored 13 points and grabbed 15 boards. McKesson Rhodes and Sami Benge-Kulzer each added four points in the Alamosa loss.

The Mustangs play two more regular-season games before the state tournament brackets are released. Injuries have taken their toll, but the focus for the team is to compete in those two games while trying to also get healthy for next week, when the next loss means the end of the season as a whole.

“Conditioning and resting our bodies and staying healthy [is a priority],” Allen says. “We have to be able to play all four quarters in these upcoming games.”

The Mustangs finish the regular season this week with a game at Woodland Park on Thursday, Feb. 16, before hosting senior night against The Classical Academy on Friday.

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