Dave McWhinnie was an All-TAAC player when he attended Toledo Christian. As coach, he's guided the Eagles to their best season in history and a No. 3 state ranking.
Dave McWhinnie first became a part of the Toledo Christian boys basketball program when he was in the eighth grade.
So when the Eagles' program a hit low point a few years ago, he decided to take action.
"It bothered me to see the school go through a down cycle and have so many losing seasons in a row," said McWhinnie, a 1992 TC grad who now is in his sixth year as the school's head coach. "I remember when we went 13-10 it was a huge accomplishment to get on the winning end of things.
"Now I get e-mails and calls from alumni who are just so excited about what we're doing and where we're heading."
The excitement is justified. The Eagles finished the regular season with a 20-0 record and won the Toledo Area Athletic Conference title by going unbeaten in league play for the second straight year.
What's more, TC spent the entire season ranked among the top Division IV teams in Ohio, earning third place in the final state poll.
For those reasons, McWhinnie was chosen as The Blade's boys basketball coach of the year. He earned the nod over worthy candidates such as Steve Williman of Liberty-Benton, Dave Boyce of Perrysburg, Leroy Bates of Libbey, Corey Tucker of Woodward, Doug Reynolds of Elmwood, Kent Seemann of Patrick Henry and E.J. Frost of Van Buren.
McWhinnie said the success of this year's team is a tribute to the current players as well as athletes from earlier seasons who helped rebuild the program.
"Early on we couldn't have asked the kids to do what they do today," McWhinnie said. "But those players worked very hard and laid the groundwork. I look back to those teams - with guys such as Aaron Baldwin, Aaron Whittlow, Ryan Chambers, Dave Schaff and Tim Conklin - those guys put a lot of effort into building the program.
"They were a big part of our success. They were willing to do a lot more in the summer than what previous guys did. By blind faith they said, 'OK, we believe we'll get better if we go play.' They laid the groundwork for what we do today."
For this year's team, the season began with a challenging summer schedule that included games against teams from all parts of the state - and all four divisions.
"We wanted to play a lot of great programs and great teams," McWhinnie said. "We wanted to play in a lot of close situations. We felt last year we didn't get into a lot of close situations, so this summer we had 20 games that came down to the fourth quarter.
"That experience has paid off. Our composure, and the experience we got in summer ball, really helped us."
Senior Blake Powell said the summer schedule helped him and the team's other returning varsity players blend with newcomers from the junior varsity.
"Playing together also helps us get familiar with other players' tendencies," Powell said.
The Eagles returned three senior starters - Powell, Tyler Boris and Jacob Weemes - from last season, but McWhinnie blended those returnees with new starters such as senior Jack Sims and sophomore Ethan Michael, along with a deep cast of reserves.
The result was a squad that outscored opponents by an average of 25 points this season, helping Toledo Christian increase its victory total for the sixth straight year.