Though his season is over, Brandon Rinta is still winning.

The former Yakima Valley and Central Washington basketball star, who recently completed his second season as head coach at Lewis-Clark State, has been named the NAIA’s national coach of the year.

Last Friday, Rinta received the Don Meyer Award, which is presented annually to the NAIA’s top coach. The ceremony was part of the awards banquet at the Final Four in Atlanta.

A Chehalis native, Rinta played for Dean Nicholson and Leon Rice at YVCC from 1996-98, then after a redshirt year excelled for two seasons under Greg Sparling at Central.

Since Rinta took over at L-C State, the Warriors have gone 42-19 including a 26-6 record and NAIA national tournament berth this past season.

Meyer won 923 games during 38 seasons at three different schools.

“Just the fact that it’s the Don Meyer Award is incredible to me,” Rinta said in an L-C State news release. “Just to be mentioned in the same sentence as a man like that is very humbling. He’s an absolute legend.”

Said L-C athletic director Gary Picone, “Being named the coach of the year and receiving an award with Don Meyer’s name attached to it is an incredible honor, and Brandon is more than deserving of it. What he’s accomplished at LCSC in just two years has clearly been recognized by people throughout the country, but no one here is surprised by it.”

On YVCC’s sophomore night in 1998, prior to Rinta’s (and Nicholson’s) last game in Sherar Gym, Nicholson said he’d never coached a better competitor. Especially lofty praise given that Nicholson was never one to blow smoke, and also given the extraordinary players he coached during his legendary career.

And during a phone conversation with Rinta last season, the coach told me he has a photo of Nicholson on the wall in is office.