Manitou Springs boys basketball ties the Vecchio and Armour families together

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

Anyone with a vague knowledge of Manitou Springs boys basketball could take a good guess at picking the program's all-time leading scorer.

The answer would either be Justin Armour or Brian Vecchio.

Only one of those names is correct and that honor goes to Armour - Manitou's lone inductee in the CHSAA Hall of Fame.

Their athletic legacies at Manitou though are linked through more than potential right answers to that question. Armour remembers when he started playing for the Mustangs as a freshman and every day at practice the coach's young son was running around the floor shooting and keeping his interest locked into what was happening on the floor.

That coach was Ken Vecchio. It was Brian off on the side.

"He was a little pipsqueak at our practices," Armour recalls. "It's pretty cool now that we're all grown up and now I have to ask a little Brian's for permission to change practices."

Armour runs the ship of the girls basketball program while Brian now coaches the boys after taking over for Ken after the 2017-18 season. But they're more than just coaching conterpoints. As Brian watched his dad coach Justin in high school, he now has his own Armour to instruct.

Joah Armour is Justin's oldest child and only son. While Justin is known more for his talents on the football field, basketball was always his first love. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree in that regard.

Joah loves to hoop and the second generation of Vecchio and Armour have the Mustangs playing sound basketball.

"I remember Justin and Joah living in California and then came back to Manitou and the first day they walked into the gym together, Joah was a pretty little guy at that time," Brian said. "I thought, man, how cool would it be if he came here at some point and I got to coach him and about 10 years later, here we are. It's been awesome."

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

Aside from the great life symmetry, it was an exciting prospect for several reasons. When Justin recalls his development as both a kid and an athlete, he's aware of the role that Ken played. Those traits in Ken have trickled down to Brian and Justin knew that Joah would come out of Manitou a better player and a better kid because of the teachings he would get from Brian and even Ken, who is still on staff as assistant.

"The Vecs are the best ones at teaching tough lessons," Justin said. "You can come in here, they don't care if your last name is Armour or if you play club basketball or you're tall, they don't really care."

If a kid wants to play for them they have to earn it.

From the minute Joah walked into the gym at Manitou, both Vecchios (Brian was the JV and Ken's main assistant at the time) stressed to him that they wanted Joah to be Joah and not to be Justin's son. If he was going to succeed, he was going to have to do it on his own merits.

"I don't think about it all that much," Joah said. "I just want to go out and play like me. I'm always ready to go."

It helped that he was tall. Even as a freshman, Joah checked in at well over 6-feet tall. But he was a bit thinner than his dad was at that age.

"Justin looked like he was 19 years old," Ken said. "When Joah came in as a freshman, he looked like a freshman."

But his game has developed over time. Brian doesn't see Joah as a younger version of his dad. If anything, Joah plays more like Brian did in his high school days.

Brian was about 6-foot-8 in high school and could work in the post and spot up for 3-pointers. He eclipsed the 1,000-point mark (one of just five players in school history to do so) despite not seeing any varsity time as a freshman.

And he'll be the first to say he gave his dad good reason to holler every once in a while. He can't help but smile when he watches Joah play and realize the similarities that exist between coach and player rather than father and son.

"I see a lot of myself when I see Joah play," Brian said. "At times it can be a lot of fun and at times it can be really frustrating."

Ken got to experience that same feeling in his final year as Manitou's coach. Among the four of them, he and Joah share a unique bond in that Ken was able to coach both generations of Armour boys.

But like Justin points to some things that Joah is doing well, Ken is quick to point out that Brian does a great job at teaching, motivating and managing Joah.

The younger Armour wouldn't disagree.

"I'd say Brian is a lot calmer," he said with a laugh. "But they're both great coaches. I've been really lucky."

And this season, the Vecs have been lucky to have him. He leads the team with 14 points per game and helped the Mustangs (9-2 overall, 5-0 Tri-Peaks) get an impressive 67-50 win over then-No. 9 St. Mary's.

If Joah has it his way, he'll help the Mustangs get back to the state tournament. After all, according to him he's already a better hooper than his dad was when he was a junior.

"I'm faster than he was," Joah said. "And I shoot the 3-ball more."

Just more?

"Better."

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)