Sienknecht pounds Mustangs into round of 16
Catch up on the latest playoff basketball coverage in the Pikes Peak region.
BROOMFIELD • Manitou Springs isn’t within a full-court shot of the four-straight-loss team that opened the season. Not even close.
They’re among the 16 best 3A schools in the state.
Bruiser Chad Sienknecht scored 16 of his career-high 22 in the second half and the No. 14 Mustangs pulled away in the final minutes to beat No. 19 Estes Park 74-62 at Holy Family High School on Friday in the first round of the 3A playoffs.
Manitou Springs coach Ken Vecchio even managed to crack a smile after the fast-paced, back-and-fourth contest.
“I’m proud of these guys. They played with a lot of heart,” Vecchio said. “They kept battling and they found a way.”
With 2:34 left, junior Glen Shoptaugh drilled a game-changing 3 to break the seventh tie of the game, giving the Mustangs the 61-58 lead. Down the stretch, Estes Park began missing from the perimeter and Manitou Springs (14-9) washed the game away at the line, hitting 9-of-10 in the final 1:30.
“We kept getting the lead up to four or five and they’d come right back,” Vecchio said. “We talked about that at half. You can’t let them keep crawling back in. Luckily, we finally pulled away at the very end.”
But Friday came down to Estes Park's (13-10) perimeter shooting and the Mustangs' presence in the paint.
Despite Estes Park’s seven 3s, there was no stopping Sienknecht. The senior took over early in the second half, scoring 10 of his 12 third-quarter points inside the paint.
“The guys just kept feeding me the ball and I just got confident with my shot,” said Sienknecht after the game with an ice bag in his hand. “I just looked for my shot.”
Sienknecht hit two quick layups to start the third before rattling off six straight points minutes later to give Manitou Springs the 43-39 lead. To close the third quarter, he hit a 5-foot turnaround jumper to push the lead to 52-49 headed into the fourth.
Back came Estes Park again, scoring five straight points to grab the lead. Sienknecht calmed the mini rally with a bucket to tie the game at 54.
The final quarter saw four lead changes before Shoptaugh’s 3 pushed the Mustangs ahead for good.
Next up, Manitou Springs faces host No. 3 Holy Family in the round of 16 Saturday at 12:45 p.m.
In the second game of the season, the Mustangs lost to Holy Family 57-49. But Vecchio said it’s a new team from Manitou.
“We even stayed with them last time,” Vecchio said. “We were 0-4 at one time. We have nothing to lose.”