One of the biggest changes since Scott Cantonwine last was a head basketball coach at the high school level is the 3-point line.
It’s a sign it’s been a while.
It was a 28-year gap for Cantonwine between head coaching jobs at the high school level between his current position at Blanchet Catholic School and his last job at Salem Academy in 1986.
But there are a lot of things that are the same in coaching philosophies that work no matter the generation.
“He really strives for great defensive efforts, and as you’ve seen, our scores so far this year, holding Dayton to low points,” senior wing Trent Gianella said. “That’s how we’re going to get places this year, is our defense.”
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It’s an unusually long gap between head coaching positions for Cantonwine, but one which he is comfortable with.
Considering the success he had in his first stint as a coach — a second-place finish in 1986 — people expect him to have success again.
“I’ve kept up with just the style of play and always very analytical when I watch,” Cantonwine said. “Got season tickets to the Blazers. Go to Oregon State games, watch basketball on TV. It’s my wife (Angie) that I worry about, not me.
“I’ve stayed in touch as far as the style of play and the 3-point shot and various other types of strategies. Fortunately for me, I’ve been able through various outlets to stay in tune. There’s no question the games and the practice are pretty easy, but it’s all the other organizational stuff, the bus trips and the uniforms.”
Cantonwine has coached many of Blanchet’s current players at the middle school level and in other venues for decades.
The expectations on Blanchet’s boys basketball program have risen significantly in the past few years.
The Cavaliers have won the league championship the past five years, made five state tournament appearances and have placed four times at the state tournament.
“It sets the bar and we now know what we have to do,” said senior Trevor Nash, who transferred from Central. “It kind of motivates you to have that pressure.”
Cantonwine — whose youngest son, Nate, is a junior point guard — has known most of the players on the team for a decade.
He brings a fatherly vibe to the program.
“Last year it definitely felt like we had a lot more pressure on us winning or losing,” senior wing Jake Bartholomew said. “This year it’s much more relaxed, not as hard or strict on us at losses. We’re focused more on positive things instead of looking at the negative.”
Cantonwine’s pedigree as a basketball coach was forged long ago.
His father, Bob, coached a couple of years at Heppner, then had a successful run at Dallas from 1964 to 1977. The elder Cantonwine then moved to South Salem and guided that team to the state championship game in 1983 before retiring from coaching.
As a sign of his impact on Dallas and South Salem, he’s been inducted into the athletic hall of fame at both schools.
His son’s stint as a high school head coach was short, but equally bright.
One of the board members at Salem Academy called Bob Cantonwine — Scott theorizes that school was trying to coax his father out of retirement — about their newly vacant boys basketball coaching position.
His father recommended his son, who had coached in various roles at different levels since graduating from Point Loma Nazarene, and just like that the 26-year-old version of Scott Cantonwine had his first coaching job.
“That was the second year they moved from West Salem campus to the new campus out on Lancaster,” Scott Cantonwine remembers. “I think they were 2-20 the year before I got there. We were probably 14-12 or 13-11 something like that.
“The next year, had a good group of seniors.”
A very good group of seniors.
Salem Academy went 18-8 that year and went from second place in their league —which included teams such as Woodburn, Cascade and Stayton —to the state championship game at McArthur Court, where they lost 64-54 to La Salle.
It was the last time he would be a head coach until now.
“I had two different principals the first two years and they actually hired a third principal, and he kind of wanted everyone to come in and re-interview for their jobs, and probably honestly, truly, it was probably one of the first times I ever listened to my dad,” said Scott Cantonwine, who played for his father at Dallas.
“He said you don’t want to do this for your whole life. I didn’t have an education certificate so I would have had to go back at some point in time if I wanted to be a teacher.”
In the ensuing 28 years, Cantonwine had a family and has coached basketball in various capacities, but this is his first head coaching position at the high school level since then.
The past experience still holds some weight with the players.
“It shows that he knows what he’s talking about,” senior point guard Matthew Beskow said. “He knows how to get there. He has some experience instead of nothing.”
Nick Cantonwine, a former all-state player at Blanchet and a starter at Linfield, is helping coach the team this year.
Coaches’ kids tend to play and then coach.
“You just learn how to play the game and play it the right way, basically,” Nate Cantonwine said.
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6701 or follow at twitter.com/bpoehler