Cheyenne Mountain girls basketball gaining confidence amidst unexpected coaching change

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

Tray Paillette wasn't planning on taking over the girls basketball program in December, but when things got hectic he was more than willing to standup and take charge.

Ben Sherman had the team playing with its opponents' level early in the season, but he had to unexpectedly step away from the program due to a personal conflict.

So Paillette was the man that athletic director Kris Roberts called on to fill the void.

"Given the less than idea timing, he's done an admirable job to rally the girls and bring some positivity to the program," Roberts said. "I was happy to see the energy that the team played with as they battled with the No. 1 team in the state on Wednesday."

The transition had to be fast considering that the Indians (4-9 overall, 1-4 Pikes Peak Athletic Conference) were already knee-deep in regular season play.

Paillette no time to install new systems from scratch and figure out which players he felt the most comfortable relying on. He had to jump into the moving car, find out what gear it was in and get moving.

"It was a little chaotic at first," Paillette said. "I just kept reminding the girls that we were here for one thing and one thing only and that's to play basketball. We got tighter as a group which I've really enjoyed."

And the team is already starting to show signs of improvement. They hosted Class 4A No. 1-ranked Air Academy on Wednesday and fought to the final buzzer. The 50-43 defeat might be another tick at the loss column, but Paillette hopes that the confidence his team played with will carry over into the rest of their regular season schedule.

"Hopefully it gives us the right amount of confidence. I don't want it to give us too much, but enough to put things in perspective that we can hang with anybody. Sure we'll take a loss here or there, but we have to understand that this is a stepping stone and we have to get right back to work tomorrow."

Entering Wednesday's game, Katelynn Ralston led Cheyenne Mountain in scoring with 15 points per game. At 10 points a game, Summer Levis is the only other player in the roster averaging in double-figures.

The pressure of taking over a team mid-year and trying to get it to improve isn't too much for Paillette and if Wednesday's result is any indication, he's enjoying the unexpected challenge in front of him.

"It wasn't too much considering I was here last year so we just kept things going," he said. "We made practices a little more intense but other than that there wasn't too much pressure."

Next up for the girls is a trip to Lewis-Palmer next Wednesday.