Longtime local basketball coach Brunson steps down

Brian Brunson was thrown into the mix as Carolina Forest’s head basketball coach.

His career there will end after more than a decade with the Panthers and as one of the most consistent faces in Horry County basketball. Brunson announced Friday he is resigning from his sports position in preparation of his ensuing full retirement after the 2019-2020 school year.

“I’ve thought it was best with the young group that I had that a new guy coming in, it was best all the way around,” Brunson said. “We’ve got a lot of stuff to do for the transition to see what I’m going to do after I retire. It’s been a great 10 years. Carolina Forest has been an absolutely wonderful experience.”

It was one that started on a whim.

Back in 2008, Brunson — who had previously served as the head coach at Myrtle Beach and Conway — was working at the Carolina Forest Community Church running the children’s ministry when the job with the Panthers unexpectedly came open during the season. He was asked to take over on an interim basis, finished out the year and then applied for the full opening later that spring.

He was a shoo-in, and in the time since, he proved himself capable of running the basketball program at what would become the county’s largest school.

“It was about teaching the kids the right way,” athletics director Tripp Satterwhite said. “We’re losing a top-notch guy. Brian does the little things right. He’s an absolute worker.”

Brunson didn’t simply coach the game. He worked on securing donations to the program and swept the gym floor.

Additionally, he also served as an assistant coach for the football and baseball teams.

The year-round schedule forced him to miss plenty of family time, and in recent years, he has used most of his weekend time during the fall to watch his son, Will, a former Panthers standout quarterback, play college ball.

Prior to coming to Carolina Forest, Brunson was the head boys coach at Myrtle Beach from 1994-1997. He won two region titles and led the Seahawks to a lower state finals in that span. He left that role to become an assistant principal at Carolina Forest Elementary for four years before getting back into the game as the head boys coach at Conway, where he served for three seasons.

The longstanding basketball man ultimately deemed this would be his final year in order to give himself time to look ahead to the next step. He could not say if he would ever coach again, but did say there are no plans to do so at this point in time.

For now, Brunson is going to step back and let the ball bounce where it may.

“For me to be trusted with doing what people have asked me to do, to try to impact the lives and teach the game of basketball, it’s been a blessing for me,” he said.

* Editor’s Note: St. James announced it is parting ways with boys basketball coach Jeremy Heinold after three seasons at the helm of the Sharks.

File Photo by Michael Smith/myhorrynews

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