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Walton-Verona boys basketball coach resigns after taking team to first state tournament since 1942

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Grant Brannen resigned as boys head basketball coach at Walton-Verona High School after taking the Bearcats to the boys state tournament for the first time since 1942 this past season.

“I just want to be with my family a little more,” Brannen said. “I’ve been coaching for over 20 years, 13 as a varsity coach, and my kids are young. And my mom and dad, I want to see them more, so it’s just time for a little more time with the family.”

Grant Brannen

Brannen turned in his coaching resignation Monday morning and plans to continue teaching at Walton-Verona. He and his wife, Anna, have a 9-year-old daughter, Caroline, and a 7-year-old son, Jefferson. He said returning to coaching in the future is a possibility.

“My daughter has asked me to coach her team next year and I told her we’ll see about that,” Brannen said with a chuckle. “Right now, I’m just going to take a break. I’m not ruling it out down the line, but right now I just need a little more family time.”

Earlier this month, the Walton-Verona boys basketball team won its first 8th Region championship and earned a berth in the Sweet 16 state tournament for the first time in 77 years. After winning a first-round game against Knox Central, they lost to Campbell County in the quarterfinals and finished with a 28-7 record.

All five starters and four reserve players on the team are seniors. One of them, 6-foot-10 center Dieonte Miles, received a scholarship to play for Xavier University.

“Our core group is moving on, but there was more to it than that to me stepping down,” Brannen said. “Those younger guys bring a lot of energy to the table and I’m going to miss that. But going out the way we did with those nine seniors was pretty nice, I’m not going to lie.”

In Brannen’s six seasons as head coach, the Bearcats compiled a 116-65 record. Over the last three seasons, they went 80-20, won three 8th Region All “A” Classic titles, placed second in the 2018 small-school state tournament and won their first 8th Region post-season championship this year.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to coach a talented team these last three years and I still think there’s a good core of guys returning,” he said. “If there is one regret, it’s not (coaching) these younger guys that I’ve had because I love them. Whoever the next coach is, they’re getting a nice group of kids.”

Before coming to Walton-Verona, Brannen posted a 146-62 record in seven seasons as Newport Central Catholic’s head coach. His teams won four 9th Region All “A” Classic titles, one small-school state championship (2013) and made it to the 9th Region post-season championship game twice (2011, 2012).

Brannen’s older brother, John, is men’s head basketball coach at Northern Kentucky University. He has taken the Norse to the NCAA Tournament two of the last three years.

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