Courtney’s most recent season at Highland ended with an overall 27-8 record and the program’s first trip to the national tournament since 2009. In his third season as head coach of the Illinois school, Courtney talked about the experience of his first game as a head coach at the national tournament.
“I was just trying to stop the bleeding as best as I could,” Courtney said. “I was trying to get everyone on the same page and get everyone calmed down. Overall, there wasn’t too much that changed for me from my time here (as an assistant) at Indian Hills.”
One experience that was similar for Courtney was the disappointment of losing the first game on the bench at Hutchinson. Courtney has now experienced that both as a head coach and an assistant coach as the first of the two IHCC teams he was an assistant coach on came to the national tournament in 2007 only to lose out on a chance at the title in its very first game.
The impact of those two losses, however, are quite different according to Courtney.
“That loss in 2007 still haunts me because that (IHCC) team had a chance to win a national championship,” Courtney said. “We expected to win the whole thing on that Indian Hills team in 2007. Coming in with my team as the 22nd seed in a 24-team tournament, I would have been happy to make it past this first game.”
“That loss in 2007 was a real kick in the gut. It always hurts more when you feel like you’ve got a chance to cut down the nets at the end of the tournament.”
Courtney is hopeful that he will have many more chances to return to the national tournament with Highland, perhaps one day with a team good enough to cut down those nets on the final Saturday night of the season.