BEMIDJI - During his 12 years as head boys basketball coach at Cass Lake-Bena Dan Ninham turned a small-town program into a perennial state championship contender.
In time the Panthers developed into the kings of Section 8A and during Ninham's final six years at the helm CL-B appeared in five state basketball tournaments. During a run which saw the Panthers play in four consecutive tourneys, Ninham's teams posted a runner-up and a pair of third-place finishes.
His coaching philosophy is based around pressure defense and pressure offense and any opponent that plans to stay with a Ninham-coached team better be prepared to constantly run up and down the court.
"We have had success offensively and defensively with our high tempo brand of basketball," Ninham said.
Two years ago Ninham left the Panthers and last winter he served as an assistant coach at Red Lake. On Friday he was named the new head boys coach at Bemidji High School.
"Susan (his wife) and our entire family are excited about this opportunity," Ninham said. "I look at this as a win-win for both the high school and for us. I think this is a great day to be a Lumberjack."
Ninham is a physical education teacher at the Bemidji Middle School and Bemidji activities director Troy Hendricks was happy to announce the appointment.
"Dan already has proven that he is a successful basketball coach," Hendricks said. "He also is a teacher in the district and is here for the kids. He is a man of character and we fell in love with his approach to building a program."
Ninham replaces Jeff Brown who resigned following the 2011-2012 season. Brown was on the BHS varsity bench for 10 seasons and last winter his team fell one game short of advancing to the state tournament.
When it was possible Ninham watched the Lumberjacks and he was impressed by what he saw.
"They were a senior-laden team last year but what I noticed were the talents at the younger levels," Ninham said. "I see a bright future for this program and we will get after things right away.
"The bottom line is that not only are we building a team, we are building a program. And I plan to be here for quite awhile so we can do that.