Brown leaves Annawan for Sterling

Mike Landis
After four seasons at Annawan and leading the Braves to fourth place in the 2008-09 Class 1A boys basketball tournament, Ryan Brown is leaving to take over as head coach at Sterling.

Ryan Brown, who led Annawan to a fourth-place finish in the Class 1A boys state basketball tournament last season, is leaving the Braves to accept the head coaching position at Sterling High School.

Brown’s hiring as boys basketball coach and physical education teacher was approved by the Sterling Board of Education June 24. Brown replaces Peter Goff, who resigned in May to accept the head coaching position at Bloomington High School.

In his four years at Annawan, Brown compiled a record of 79-44, including a 22-win season in 2007-08 and 27-win season in 2008-09.

“It was the hardest decision of my life, without a doubt,” said Brown of leaving Annawan.

“It wasn’t that it was time to leave, I just wanted to move up,” added Brown. “I really love a challenge.”

Brown will lead the Golden Warriors through their final season in the NCIC. The conference’s Reagan Division teams — Sterling, Streator, Dixon, Ottawa, LaSalle-Peru and Geneseo — will exit after the 2009-10 season to join DeKalb, Sycamore, Kaneland, Rochelle, Yorkville and Morris in the new Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference.

“Sterling is kind of an up and coming program, mixed with a little tradition,” said Brown.

The Golden Warriors lose Illinois recruit Joseph Bertrand from their 19-11 2008-09 squad, but Brown inherits a sophomore team that went 26-2 last season.

Brown has coached several players that will be part of Sterling’s program next season — seniors Alec Monaghan and Marcos Rivera, juniors Drew Pace and Eli Townsend, and sophomore Alejandro Rivera — in AAU basketball.

“I’m familiar with a few of their players. I know them and really like them, and they have a good team coming,” said Brown. “It was a situation that I liked.”

After his success at Annawan, Brown wasn’t interested in a rebuilding job.

“I know they have the ability to be good,”  Brown said.

An admitted small-school guy – Brown graduated from Knoxville High School and started his coaching career at Scotland County in Missouri — the time was right to take the next step in his coaching career.

“Now is the time,” said Brown. “I just want to see if I can do it.”