The 12th Regional Girl’s Basketball Tournament got underway last night at Lincoln County High School, and there has already been one coaching casualty during this postseason.

Jim Brown is out after just three seasons as the head coach of the Somerset Lady Briar Jumpers.

Brown served as an assistant coach for 13 years, and was part of Somerset’s magical run in the All A and the 12th Region during the 1990s, serving under head coach Judie Mason.

During that run, Somerset finished as a runner-up at the All “A” Classic, won a state championship at the All “A” the following season, and also won a 12th Regional Tournament championship.

Three years ago, Mason stepped down at Somerset to take the head coaching job at Boyle County, paving the way for Brown to succeed her in an attempt to continue the outstanding tradition in girl’s basketball, which was resurrected during Mason’s tenure.

Brown, in his first year on the job in the proverbial hot seat, finished with a .500 record, going 14-14 in the 2003-’04 season.

Then, he followed that up with a number two seed in the rugged 48th District last year, going 21-8 on the season, but the Lady Jumpers fell to North Laurel in the district tourney, in a very disappointing loss.

Then, the roof caved in on Somerset this year, as the Jumpers, a team decimated with injuries all year long, suffered through an abysmal, 9-19 season.

The Lady Jumpers lost two starters, Caiti Cowan and Chelsea Gomez with torn ACL injuries, and Brown was forced to play a very young team for much of the year, with eighth graders such as Samantha Dorsey and Jessica Coffey seeing a lot of minutes each and every night.

Over those three years, Brown tallied a won-loss record of 44-41, but with three straight seasons of not making a regional tournament appearance, and by making just one Class A State Tournament appearance over those three seasons, in the end, that just wasn’t good enough for Somerset.

Still, despite all of the problems with the injuries, and with an abysmal season just completed last week, Brown says he was looking forward to the future and coaching Somerset next year, but he says he wasn’t given that opportunity.

According to Brown, he did not resign his position as the Lady Jumpers’ head coach. Instead, he says he was informed by Somerset School’s Superintendent Wilson Sears earlier this week, that the girl’s basketball program was going to be headed in another direction.

And, that direction did not include Jim Brown.

“I did not resign the position, but when I met with Mr. Sears on Tuesday, he informed me that the program was going to go in a different direction,” stated Brown.

“I’m just thankful that I was able to be with the program for 16 years, the last three as the head coach,” Brown continued. “I want to thank the administration, the parents, the boosters, and the players for all of their support for me. I’ve had a great time, and I love Somerset girl’s basketball. It’s been a great part of my life.”

Brown went on to say that he is fully aware that all coaches are judged today by wins and losses, and the old saying, “You’re only as good as your last game.”

Well, what turned out to be Brown’s last game, was not a very good one for Somerset.

The Lady Jumpers trailed Casey County 29-5 at the half; a half in which they made only one field goal and committed 21 turnovers.

Somerset went on to lose that contest last week in the Girl’s 47th District Tournament, 59-28, and Brown says he knows that fan expectations these days are very high, and that success is not only expected, but it’s the norm for a Lady Jumper program steeped in tradition.

“Somerset has a tradition of excellence, both academically and athletically, and the standards have been set high,” said Brown. “You are hired to win ballgames, and we did not get it done this year, for a myriad of reasons.”

“You just can’t use excuses,” Brown continued. “We had a losing record, and a coach is only as good as his last game, and we struggled, there’s no denying that.”

Meanwhile, Somerset athletic director Bob Tucker, who considers Brown a close, personal friend, stated he hates to see Brown leave under the current set of circumstances, but the school will start searching for Brown’s replacement almost immediately.

“We will definitely have someone in place by May, before school’s out, because we need to get someone in there to start working with our girls, and get ready for all of the summer camps and the summer programs,” stated Tucker.

“Jim Brown is a good man, and I wish him nothing but the best,” added Tucker. “Jim has a family, and he has a new grandchild, and anymore, coaching has became a year-round endeavor, and you have to almost work from day to night over the summer, and it makes it hard to have any kind of family life.”

Brown meanwhile, who teaches chemistry at Somerset High School, says he is going to take some time off to consider his options, but he isn’t ruling out a return to the hardwood as a coach in some capacity down the road.

“I still have a desire to coach girl’s basketball, and right now, I really don’t know what avenue I’m going to pursue,” said Brown. “I’m going to talk to my wife (Barbara), but I just want to do the Lord’s will, and if it is in coaching, I certainly want to explore that.”

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