NAPPANEE — NorthWood High School is naming its boys high school basketball holiday tourney the Dan Gunn Classic in honor of the man who turned the program into a perennial winner.
The inaugural Gunn Classic is set for Dec. 29-30 at The Pit, and besides the Panthers, it will fittingly include Edwardsburg (Mich.), the last school that Gunn coached before retiring for a second time in 2013.
Mishawaka and South Bend Clay complete the field.
"It means you're getting older," the typically self-deprecating Gunn said Thursday of the salute.
"In all seriousness, it shows a lot of appreciation for the time and work that we put into developing the program. I appreciate the appreciation," Gunn said. "My wife and my daughters think it's pretty neat, and I do, too."
"It's just something for everything he's done for our basketball program and our community," said current NorthWood coach Aaron Wolfe, who counts Gunn as one of his valued mentors.
Gunn, a Wakarusa resident, continues to attend most Panther home games when they do not conflict with family events. He said he'll be at Friday's opener against Triton, and at the Gunn Classic.
Gunn began his 36-year head coaching career at NorthWood in 1975, staying for three years before heading to Harrison in West Lafayette.
After stops at Penn and alma mater Marion, he returned to NorthWood in 1992. The program had just completed its ninth straight losing season, but would post winning marks over 13 of the next 15 years under Gunn.
He guided the Panthers to their first three sectional titles (1995, 2001, 2007), to what remains their only two Northern Lakes Conference titles (2000, 2007) and to what remains their lone regional title (2007).
Overall, Gunn compiled a 514-318 mark in 36 years with 10 sectional, six conference and four regional crowns.
The pairings for this year's Gunn Classic are Edwardsburg against Clay at 6 p.m. followed by NorthWood against Mishawaka on Dec. 29. The consolation and championship are the following evening.
Wolfe said the same four teams are slated to compete next year, with the matchups rotated.
NorthWood hasn't regularly hosted a holiday event since 1976-77 to 1980-81, but also hosted in 2008-09 and co-hosted with Rochester three years ago.