Last year the extremely young Cheyenne Wells Tigers made huge gains in the program as they finally, after 44 years took their program back to the state tournament. It was a Cinderella season for mostly very young, but talented, underclassmen and a couple of seniors in Sydney Dickey and Erin Minton who metaphorically put those youngsters on their backs and carried them down the stretch.
For first year head coach Jason Muth, last season was very memorable, but now in his second year at the helm he thinks his team might be even better as the youngsters have now matured, 10 of them, and they’ve added five good freshmen to the mix, as well.
Muth has collected a number of assistant coaches who will be in the gym helping his young players as they develop the needed skills to get back to the state tournament. Returning as assistants are Jayci Hollenbaugh and Danielle Wallace, and there will also be a new face on the bench in Cassidy Harding.
The 18-7 Lady Tigers will depend on many players with a lot of court experience. The two seniors, both guards, Kassadee Dickey and Ella Weed will set the pace. Muth says of his seniors, “These two ladies have been a part of the basketball team for all four years and I am looking for them to be a calming presence and provide leadership to a young team.”
Muth is also excited about what he is seeing from junior guard Shaylee Scheler. “Shaylee gives tremendous effort in everything she does and is an incredible defender. It was so exciting to see her confidence grow, especially in the postseason last year.”
Another seasoned junior that Muth will depend on to take care of a lot of the rebounding is Izzy Trevino-Lopez.
Muth also has two good sophomore guards in Chamille Giron and Paige Ryser. Muth says, “Chamille has great instincts and plays aggressive defense. She is the girl that will get on the floor for loose balls and do all the extra things. She provides great energy to the team and has an amazing attitude.”
Ryser was a tremendous freshman a year ago and was named all-conference and all-state honorable mention. She was second overall in steals in the Colorado ranks with 5.6 steals per game equating to 141 steals on the season. The freshman also carried 11.8 ppg scoring 295 points.
Muth knows, “Paige is the heart of the team. She has a quiet personality but leads with her play. She was an enormous part of our success last season and I look for her to have another big year.”
Ryser suffered an injured knee during the volleyball season and came back in the final week of the season so it may take her some time to get into top basketball shape.
Muth has a lot of quickness on this team, “These ladies love being around each other and have great attitudes.”
Muth realizes to get to their overall goals of a return trip to state they must work on their overall basketball game sense. But, he adds, “We don’t have to start from scratch on offense and defense this year though, so I think we will grow quickly.”
Cheyenne Wells will have to be ready to go when the season begins as Muth says their pre-season schedule is pretty tough as is the Hi-Plains League and the district where Wiley has been added. “I thought our league and district was one of the most competitive last year in 1A, and it will be even more competitive this year, so I look for a VERY strong district.”
The Lady Tigers will begin their season at the Border Wars in early December in Kansas. They will then also travel to another tournament that includes a top team in the state Briggsdale in mid-December.
But Muth is happy where they are and knows, “The most important goal for me is that these ladies continue to develop a love for the game. Last year we surprised a lot of people, including ourselves. We won’t be flying under the radar this year, so the challenge is not to put unnecessary pressure on ourselves, but to just work hard and play the game.”