In the wake of its first state championship, Toledo boys basketball hopes to make a smooth transition after parting ways with coach Eddie Townsend.
Athletic director and vice principal Bart Rothenberger – who compiled a 393-161 record at six different schools, including 1A titles at Mohawk in 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2008 – has taken over as head coach. Rothenberger assisted Townsend last season.
“We had a pretty good squad returning, and we wanted to make sure that we had someone that knew the kids and understood the program,” Rothenberger said. “We looked at a couple other situations, but we just felt more comfortable with me being in the program the last two years.”
Townsend went 128-42 with six Sunset Conference titles in six seasons at Toledo. Under Townsend, the Boomers were 2A runners-up in 2015 and placed third in 2019 before storming to the championship last season, beating Western Christian 58-48 in the final.
Townsend said he and the Boomers split after he met with Rothenberger and principal Richard Ceder at the school in the middle of March.
“It is what it is. It's water under the bridge, and I'm just moving on,” Townsend said. “It was a great run. My experience at Toledo was great. I poured my heart into the program. I loved the kids. I love all the people. I was never planning on leaving.”
Townsend was hired in April as a math teacher at Newport Middle School, also part of the Lincoln County School District. He will return to his alma mater, Newport High School, as an assistant to boys basketball coach Peter Ellingsen.
Townsend lives across the street from Newport's football stadium.
“Everybody would ask me every year, 'Are you going to try to go to Newport?'” Townsend said. “When it comes to being at Newport, I've got so many fond memories. It's really nostalgic when you go into the gym.. So I'm really happy to just be back.”
Rothenberger said Townsend left Toledo “on good terms.”
“He did a tremendous job with the program,” Rothenberger said. “He got handed a crew that was exceptional his first year and he did a very good job with them. He just had tremendous athletes, and he worked hard within the program in bringing up young kids.
“I'm sure there are kids that are going to miss him. He did a great job with them. We're sad to see him leave, and wish him the best. We hope he does well at Newport.”
Toledo was the first basketball head coaching job for Townsend, who went 9-11 as Waldport's head football coach in 2011 and 2012. He was hired as a math teacher at Toledo in 2014 and took over the Boomers' coach, leading them to a state runner-up finish in his first season.
“There's just been a plethora of talent,” said Townsend, who also assisted in Toledo's football program for three seasons. “I've got a system and I've got certain things I teach that I think work for high school basketball, but it was just a golden age of Toledo basketball players. You're getting that kind of scoring talent every year.
“There are a lot of things that can get in the way. Just everything fell into place. Toledo is just a great culture, great people.”
The Boomers put it all together last season, winning their three state tournament games by a combined 63 points. They finished with a 26-3 record.
“We didn't just win the state title, we blew it away,” Rothenberger said. “Eddie did a tremendous job with that crew. He's a very intelligent young man. He'll do a good job wherever he goes. He works hard.”
Rothenberger has coached for 20 seasons at Triangle Lake (1996-97), Reedsport (1997-99), Mohawk (2000-08), Glendale (2008-09), Central Linn (2009-15) and Taft (2016-18).
He is the son of Junction City coach Craig Rothenberger, who led the Tigers to the 3A title in 1994 and is No. 6 on the state's all-time wins list (646-499 in 49 seasons).
Bart's son, Gunner, started as a freshman for Toledo last season. He has another son, Cooper, who will be a freshman in the program this season.
With nine players eligible to return from last season, including three starters, Toledo appears to have a realistic shot at a 2A repeat, provided the season is played.
Bart Rothenberger said that senior all-state guard Mason McAlpine “might be the best 2A player in the state.” Jaxon Rozewski, a 6-foot-7 senior post who is being recruited in football as a quarterback, is a force inside.
“I'm excited about the season,” Bart Rothenberger said. “If we stay healthy, we should be right up there in the top four.”