Working on the family ranch in Wasco County near Maupin and playing basketball for his father at tiny Sherman County High School in Moro helped lay an early foundation for Bob Townsend.
He learned the value of a strong work ethic on the 9,000-acre cattle ranch, and on the court, Townsend — the new boys basketball coach at Mountain View High in Bend — learned the basics of coaching.
Townsend’s father, Ron Townsend, coached multiple sports at Sherman County in rural north-central Oregon.
“He always taught me if you can work with kids and challenge them and hold them accountable, you can coach any sport,” Bob Townsend says. “It’s just a matter of learning that sport’s dynamics, but it’s really how you relate to kids.”
After high school Townsend went on to a stellar college career at Oregon Tech in Klamath Falls from 1995 to 1999, twice leading the Owls to the NAIA Division II national tournament under legendary coach Danny Miles.
The 6-foot-8-inch Townsend, now 41, still holds the career record for 3-pointers made at Oregon Tech and ranks in the top five in scoring and rebounds. Miles, who was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame last month, boasted more than 1,000 wins in his 45 years at Oregon Tech.
“When I got to coach Miles, it was the same principles (as my father),” Townsend says. “I got an opportunity to play for four years under a great coach and a great program. I just had big influences in basketball.”
After college, Townsend coached boys basketball at Sherman County then moved on to The Dalles, where he coached for nine years before he and his family moved to Bend in 2014.
A civil engineer and area manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation, Townsend worked for the last three years as a volunteer assistant coach at Mountain View under Brian Broaddus. After Broaddus resigned this past summer and took over the girls program at La Pine High, Townsend was named the new head coach of the Cougars.
The married father of 15- and 12-year-old boys certainly keeps busy, also running the Central Oregon Basketball Organization youth program and still traveling to help on the family ranch occasionally.
“My day job is my day job,” Townsend says of his position at ODOT. “It’s what pays the bills and stuff, but I love coaching basketball and I love being around the kids. It’s a little tough during the season having to go to work extra early to get done by practice time, but that’s just part of it.”
Townsend has taken over a boys program that has been one of the most successful in Central Oregon over the past 15 years or so. The Cougars, under longtime coach Craig Reid and then Broaddus, have won Intermountain Conference championships 11 of the past 14 seasons.
But, as Townsend is quick to note, the challenge for Mountain View — as well as for intracity rivals Bend High and Summit — is moving up to compete in the Class 6A Mountain Valley Conference against Salem-area schools. The Cougars are currently 6-3 and open MVC play Tuesday at South Salem.
“It’s trying to get the kids and the youth program to realize, hey, it’s a bigger commitment now,” Townsend says, adding that Mountain View, with an enrollment of 1,279, is the smallest school in its league. “At a 6A level and as you increase the program, you’ve got to be fully committed to lifting weights on your own, getting extra shots and extra ball handling on your own … doing those extra things that make up the difference with the numbers or the level of commitment at … some of these bigger schools.”
Townsend says he likes how the Cougars have performed so far this season, noting that two of their three losses came against Wilsonville, the No. 2 team in Class 5A in the OSAA’s rankings as of Thursday.
Mountain View — ranked No. 8 in 6A — has just two seniors on its roster and no players taller than 6-3. Senior point guard Chase McClain, the IMC co-player of the year last season, is leading the young team that is looking to win with tough defense and open-court transition offense, according to Townsend.
“We have some returners, but losing Matt Van Tassell is a big adjustment,” Townsend says, referring to the 6-7 leader of last season’s Cougars and the other IMC co-player of the year, now a freshman on the basketball team at Oregon Tech.
“And then playing mostly juniors and one or two seniors is a little different,” Townsend adds. “I’m satisfied with where we’re at. The kids have been playing hard. They bought in to what we’re trying to do. It’s been nice to see. We still have a long way to go, but we would have taken (a 6-3 record) through Christmas.”
McClain says the transition to Townsend as the new head coach has been smooth.
“He understands how all of us want to put in the effort and try to get better each and every day,” McClain says. “He’s a positive coach. Since he was our assistant, he already knew all of us. It’s not like he’s just coming into a new system. He knows all of us and our roles. He just wants what’s best for all of us. He just wants to win, and he’ll do whatever he can to do it.”
Townsend says the Cougars’ goal is to win the Mountain Valley Conference. On paper that looks like a tall order, as Bend, South Salem and West Salem all return strong, talented teams.
“We think we can win a league title,” Townsend says. “It’s going to be difficult, but that’s our goal. We’ve done enough right now to put us in a good position moving forward.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0318,