JIMTOWN - Randy DeShone remembers being told when he considered taking over at Jimtown High School that it was one place nobody can win in boys basketball.
Well, among the things DeShone won at Jimtown was the only IHSAA state title in Elkhart County boys basketball history.
After 20 years, DeShone is leaving his post as head coach, along with his job as math teacher, to become assistant principal at the school under new principal Jeff Ziegler. DeShone has been approved by the Baugo Community Schools board.
"I had to make a very tough decision," DeShone said, "because I've loved coaching and teaching."
DeShone said he would've considered remaining basketball coach in addition to becoming assistant principal, but school policy does not allow for such a double.
"And I support that philosophy," DeShone said. "This was entirely my decision knowing that."
DeShone arrived at Jimtown in 1991 roughly knowing that the basketball program had suffered 10 losing seasons over the previous 11 years under three head coaches, averaging 5.6 victories per season.
"People said, 'You know the athletic director's the football coach, don't you?' like it was something I should be concerned about," DeShone said, referring to Bill Sharpe, who was guiding a powerhouse football program and remains the athletic director today, "but I'll tell you what, Bill is somebody who would do anything for me, somebody who has stuck by me and somebody I've learned so much about coaching from. And nobody's ever been happier for our basketball team when we've won."
And Jimtown won plenty under DeShone, going 241-201 for a .545 victory percentage that ranks No. 1 among the Jimmies' last 10 boys basketball coaches.
The golden moment of all came in 2004 when the Jims' capped a 25-2 season with the Class 2A state title, but that unique achievement in county history has remained something DeShone has never waved in anybody's face.
"First of all, no coach wins a state title," DeShone said Wednesday. "It's a lot of kids and a lot of other people making sacrifices, and sometimes it involves getting a good break here or there. There have been a lot of outstanding teams around this area that maybe got a bad break, but that team kind of had karma, almost like it was meant to be."
Under DeShone, the Jimmies were consistently known for feisty, man-to-man defense and patient offense. That offense would sometimes be tagged as boring, but the coach didn't care.
"As a head coach, your job is to put your team in position to have a chance to win," DeShone said. "Don't lose the game in the first three quarters. If we felt we had more talent than the other team, we would push the ball, and if we thought it was better to be patient, we were. What I liked is that we had kids who wanted to win and were willing to do what it takes to win. I remember telling kids, 'Guys, we can't beat this team running, but if you'd really rather run than win, I'll support you in that.' I'm glad they never made me prove it."
DeShone's job shift took one of his best friends in the coaching business, Jim Buller of Bethany Christian, by surprise. Buller, at 32 seasons and counting, is the only individual in boys county history who has spent more time as a head coach at one school than DeShone.
The two men faced off 26 times, with DeShone winning 18.
"He's been a thorn in my side for many years, and a tremendous defensive coach," Buller said Wednesday of DeShone, "but more than that, he's a tremendous person. He's been fun to share ideas with and just a class act, and I'm really going to miss our games (which included eight decided by four points or less). It's been a real joy to have somebody like him to compete with and talk with."
"Randy's genuinely one of those people who's a teacher first," Sharpe said Wednesday. "He's more interested in developing young men than winning games and never compromised on that, and still won a lot of games. He's done everything the right way, never embarrassed himself or the school."
DeShone, 49, counts coaching sons Derrick and Brian, both standouts at Jimtown before graduating, among his favorite experiences, and says he was planning to coach at least through eighth-grader-to-be Adam's career before stepping down.
"That's part of what's made this a tough decision, but we've talked about it," DeShone said. "I'm excited by the direction our school is going, I have great, great respect for Jeff Ziegler, and we have an unbelievable teaching staff that does what's best for kids. Those are some of the reasons I'm doing this."
DeShone said he saw just three games each of Adam's and of daughter Sarah's last season, and now should be able to see more. Sarah is entering her sophomore season at Ferris State in Michigan.
The boys basketball head coaching job as well as DeShone's math teaching position have been posted and will remain so until July 1.
Sharpe said no timeline has been established for naming a new coach, and DeShone said he will continue to assist the team through its summer activities until a new coach is hired.
The Jimmies were 9-12 last winter, their third straight non-winning season, and graduated five of the top six scorers.
Randy DeShone By The Numbers
A look at Randy DeShone's boys basketball coaching career at Jimtown:
1 - State titles. Jimtown won the Class 2A crown in 2004, the only IHSAA boys basketball title in Elkhart County history.
2 - Outright Northern State Conference titles, in 2004 and 2005. Jimtown's only other outright league title came in 1971.
8 - Consecutive seasons that Jimtown has ranked in the top six in the state in defensive average, including No. 1 three times.
20 - Seasons DeShone coached at Jimtown, the second-longest tenure at one school in county boys basketball history behind Jim Buller's 32 seasons and counting at Bethany Christian.
57 - Years between sectional titles at Jimtown before the Jimmies won their second ever in 2002. They went on to add their first-ever regional title that season.
122-42 - DeShone's record over the seven seasons from 2001-02 to 2007-08, an average of 17.4 wins per season to rank among the best in the state.
241 - Career wins, making DeShone No. 1 in Jimtown history and fourth in Elkhart County history.
.545 - Career winning percentage (241-201), placing DeShone No. 1 among the 10 individuals to coach at Jimtown over the last 54 years.