A 20-win season turned out to be enough to remove the interim label for Skyline High School boys basketball coach Clint Cornish.
The Montana native, who led the Grizzlies to a 20-8 record and a spot in the 5A state tournament, was officially named the program’s permanent head coach Thursday.
The former Skyline assistant achieved the success last season despite taking over the program late when the original head coaching hire decided not to take the job.
“What I was proud of them all year is that we were able to be successful and be consistent. That’s a sign of a good team,” Cornish said. “If you can you keep doing that year after year, that’s a sign of a good program. But the kids were great. They understood the fact that if you all pull in the right direction and buy into this, we can make it happen.”
The Grizzlies overcame plenty of adversity late in the season, highlighted by Cornish’s ejection from the final regular-season game against Bonneville. That earned him a suspension for the opening game of the district tournament against rival Idaho Falls, a game the Grizzlies lost in overtime. But Skyline won close games over Madison and Hillcrest and then topped Idaho Falls in a rematch to earn the program’s first trip to state since 2000.
The Grizzlies went 1-2 at state, falling to district rival Highland in the consolation final.
Skyline also caught the attention of the community, drawing large crowds for its home games.
“That means everything when the community comes out and supports you,” he said. “It makes you feel like part of a family. That’s harder with the larger schools and with towns with more than one high school, but that’s one thing that made last year even more special. Everybody got into it.”
Cornish will lose senior starters Zak Bennett and Brayden Burnside, but returns a talented trio of Tyson Baker, Mason Baker and Jai Jai Ely.
“Expectations are going to be high, and that’s the kind of thing you want to have,” Cornish said.
Cornish, who teaches Spanish at Skyline, will also be an assistant coach with the football team.