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A special basketball day for the Brannen family

March 6, 2019 FieldsColumn

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Walton-Verona Coach Grant Brannen and his mom Debbie at Rupp Arena Wednesday afternoon.

BY MIKE FIELDS

Debbie and John Brannen didn’t stick around Rupp Arena for long after watching their son Grant coach Walton-Verona to a 76-54 victory over Knox Central in the opening game of the 102nd KHSAA Sweet Sixteen Wednesday afternoon.

The Brannens had to book it back up I-75 so they could watch their son John coach Northern Kentucky University against Detroit Mercy at BB&T Arena in the Horizon League tournament Wednesday night.

First, though, they had to stop off at home and change clothes, switching their Walton-Verona colors (blue & white) for NKU colors (black & gold).

The proud basketball parents are on the road a lot during the winter, catching all the Walton-Verona and NKU games they can.

Debbie estimates that comes to 60 or 70 games a season, with her and husband splitting up when there are scheduling conflicts.

If you include the youth league games their grandkids play, Debbie said they probably take in more than 100 hoops contests a season.

But Wednesday wasn’t an ordinary basketball day.

“It was really special because this was the first time ever Grant made it here,” Debbie said, referring to the state tournament.

Grant was the head coach at Newport Central Catholic, his alma mater, for seven seasons, and led the Thoroughbreds to the All “A” state championship in 2013.

But he was never able to get NewCath to the Sweet Sixteen.

Now, in his sixth season at Walton-Verona, he has a team playing – and winning — in Rupp Arena.

Grant’s older brother John is enjoying great success at NKU. He’s had the Norse at or near the top of the Horizon League the last three years, highlighted by a spot in the NCAA Tournament in 2017.

“It’s a lot of fun, especially this time of year,” Debbie said, before hurrying out of Rupp Arena with her husband, and grandkids Caroline and Jefferson (Grant’s children), in tow.

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