When Malcolm Roberts took over the Classen SAS girls basketball program in 2011, there wasn't much hope for success.
The Comets didn't even complete their season because they didn't have enough players.
Last season, though, they posted a 17-10 record, climbing from the cellar of Class 4A to a top-20 team and creating high expectations entering this season for the first time in school history.
“It's just hard to believe that you take a school like Classen, where everything is academics, and you have people willing to come watch girls,” Roberts said. “It would be different if it was boys, but girls basketball is the lifeblood as far as sports. It's kind of fun.”
The Comets are 4-0 this season and are ranked No. 14 in the coaches' poll on OSSAARankings.com.
They have a young, talented roster highlighted by Roberts' daughter, Taylor, a freshman point guard already receiving recruiting interest from Kansas State.
She made her debut Tuesday against Northwest Classen, scoring 34 points and showing no signs of an injured ankle that kept her out of the season's first three games.
“I think she'll be fine,” Malcolm said. “I wouldn't be surprised if she doesn't average 25-30, if not more.”
For a freshman to average that would be impressive. But for a freshman to average that at Classen would be even more impressive.
When Roberts left Northeast, a school where he had success as the boys basketball coach, people thought he was crazy for taking the job, and it's likely some still do.
The Comets had just five players on the team. After one got injured late in the year, that meant the end of the season.
Roberts also said he's had to overcome some issues with the school's staff at times, too.
“To be honest with you, I've heard teachers say to my face that they didn't want kids to come out for sports,” he said. “Sports are just not at the front.
“It's like I try to explain to them, at the University of Oklahoma they're highly ranked as far as academics, but they have great sports programs, which when you have that it funnels money into the school.
“They may not be athletically inclined, but if they are a part of something big ... you can bring a school up as far as atmosphere.”
But the Comets have brought a sense of pride around the school, and players are taking notice.
“Now the team sits together at lunch,” Taylor said. “We're like one big family.”
And it's a big family that finally has high expectations.
“We keep striving to be the best that we can be,” sophomore Kennedy Williams said. “We want to be better than just ‘Classen good.' We want to go to the state tournament and actually compete for the gold ball and win it, and put up our first state championship in women's basketball.”