The girls basketball season at Manitou Springs will look similar to last year, but also slightly different. Many of the concepts that the team operated on last year will be consistent, but the person calling the shots on the bench is a somewhat new face.

Juliana Argyle is stepping in for Jessie Nunley as an interim coach this season. Nunley gave birth to a son in October and opted to step away from the team for this season; she will serve in an assistant capacity when she returns to work. Argyle was Nunley’s assistant last year and plans to slide into the head coach position without the team taking any steps backward.

“Coach Nunley built a really good base with our offense and defensive aspects,” Argyle said. “We did really well at (Colorado Mesa (University), at the tournament there over the summer. We’re just looking to build on our successes from that.”

There’s a lot of encouraging news in that regard.

After missing most of last season while recovering from a knee injury, Grace Allen returns to the Mustangs, where she hopes to play a huge role in the team’s success. Combined with other returners like Sami Benge-Kulzer and McKesson Rhodes, this is a team that could surprise some people in the Tri-Peaks League.

“We’re moving into that leadership role,” Rhodes said. “With Grace back, it’s obviously a big help and it’s going to take a big team effort this season.”

This is going to be an interesting year from the standpoint that Manitou is now competing in Class 4A after adding a 6A category changed the entire landscape of Colorado basketball this year. The Tri-Peaks League remains intact, but rather than competing at districts, the Mustangs would move right into the 4A state tournament should they qualify.

But that’s a problem for later.

For the Mustangs to get there, they need to settle into the season and make sure that the consistent play is living up to the expectations of the players and the coaching staff. Part of that comes with the passion that Argyle brings to the role of interim head coach.

“I’m really excited for the intensity,” Rhodes said. “We had a lot of intensity last year but (Argyle) really pushes us.”

And she plans on doing that early. Argyle took note of some issues the team had through the course of last season and is implementing some early standards that will help resolve those.

“One thing we learned as a staff last year is that we needed to hit harder with conditioning early on,” she said. “We didn’t have that much depth off the bench to press an entire game.

“After last year, we talked that it had to be one of our goals this year to start off defensive heavy and have legs to last a whole game.”


Manitou Springs girls basketball

Head coach: Juliana Argyle

2021-22 result: 10-14, 4-9 Tri-Peaks

Key returners: Grace Allen, Sami Benge-Kulzer, Kaleena Jones, McKesson Rhodes

First competition: Nov. 30 at Peyton


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