By GREG MENGELT
Former Jeffersonville girls’ head basketball coach Matt Pait was hired to be the new Jeffersonville boys’ varsity basketball coach at Tuesday’s Greater Clark County Schools board meeting.
Pait was also a Jeffersonville basketball star, varsity assistant and head junior varsity Jeffersonville boys’ basketball.
“I’m really excited,” Pait said in a phone interview Tuesday evening. “It’s a dream job for me personally because I’m a Jeff guy. I know the history [of Jeff basketball] and I have pride in the school.”
Pait inherits a Red Devils’ team that is coming off back-to-back Hoosier Hills Conference and sectional titles under Chad Gilbert. Jeff also won a regional title in March.
The Red Devils lost All-State Darryl Baker to graduation, but if all of the players return under Pait, Jeff should contend for all three crowns again in 2013-14.
“We have quite a bit of talent coming back,” Pait said. “To lose an All-State and Division I player like Darryl is a tough loss for any program. Hopefully everybody will come back and play and we should have a really good team and compete for the conference championship, the sectional championship and the regional championship again. Doing that — plus competing for a state championship — is the goal every year at Jeff. We have a chance to continue what Coach Gilbert has built here.”
Pait was a varsity standout for Jeffersonville from 2000-2003. He was a role player on the Red Devils’ 2000 Final Four team and was a three-year varsity starter and captain. He was All-Hoosier Hills Conference three times and is currently Jeff’s eighth all-time leading scorer.
Pait played one season at Gardner-Webb in Boiling Springs, N.C., before transferring to Bellarmine, where he was named All-Great Lakes Valley Conference in 2005.
Pait began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Lincoln Memorial in Harrogate, Tenn. After a year there, he spent four years as a Jeff boys’ varsity assistant and junior varsity coach.
At the end of last season, Pait was hired as the Jeffersonville girls’ basketball coach. He led the rebuilding Red Devils to a 7-14 mark during a season that included three overtime losses.
The newly open Jeffersonville girls’ head varsity coaching job was posted this morning. Whoever replaces Pait will be the fourth different Jeff girls’ varsity coach in four years.
Pait met with his former team Tuesday evening to let them know he had been hired as the boys’ varsity head coach.
“It’s really hard to leave that program even after just one year,” Pait said. “[The Red Devil girls] worked hard and were very dedicated. With the effort they gave [the coaching staff] and the program, it’s hard to leave those relationships. The timing isn’t great for them, but they’re going to be successful with whoever comes in.
“But it is hard to leave them. This is the only job that I would have left the girls’ job for.”
Look for a more in-depth feature on Pait and the future of the Jeffersonville basketball program in the News an Tribune later in the week.