MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. — It’s been a year of COVID-19 protocols and shortened athletic seasons, so when athletics Season B started, the Manitou Mustangs Boys Basketball team took every precaution, and now wearing a mask while playing has become second nature.
“Well, we wear it all day, so sometimes I just leave it on because I am so used to it,” said Caleb Allen, junior point guard.
Brian Vecchio, the Head Coach for Manitou Springs, made it clear, “I told the guys early on, we can’t control if another team has to cancel. But we are making sure we do the absolute best that we can.”
This year, the Manitou Springs team has a well-round roster, with experienced starters like senior guard Isaiah Thomas, junior point guard Caleb Allen, and a deep bench of sophomores who immediately came in and contributed.
“This is a great group of kids. They allow me to coach them the way I love to coach basketball. This group of seniors started with me as my first year as a head coach, and it’s a special group. It is a group of guys I feel I owe a lot to,” Coach Vecchio expressed.
The Mustangs have not seen the Final Four round of the playoffs since 1991. They have made it to the great eight on five occasions but can’t seem to take it a step further. Without looking too far ahead, this team is confident they can break the 30-year drought.
Senior guard Isaiah Thomas said, “This is kind of like our last hoorah. With our experience and leading those young guys, I think this team can be really special and make a deep run into the playoffs.”
The Mustangs are ranked 3rd in the 3A and undefeated at 9-0. In their final game of the regular season, they will face a familiar rival, top-ranked St. Mary’s.
“We are all looking forward to that game. But, as excited as everyone is for that game, we have to take every game one at a time,” according to Thomas.
Coach Vecchio noted, “We need to make sure we prepare the same for each team. You know, in a COVID year, I think that is more important than ever to make sure you are checking all the boxes every night.”