BELGREEN – History is not lost on Brant Bragwell when he goes to basketball practice at Belgreen High School.
The senior guard mentions the school’s old gym, a tiny facility with just enough space for a few rows of bleachers along each sideline and a balcony on one side. Windows near the top of the wall further show the building’s age, especially compared to the modern gym the team plays games in now.
Among the dozens of Belgreen basketball players who knew that old facility well are Brant’s father, Roger (class of 1983), and grandfather, Bobby (class of 1962).
“It’s pretty cool, especially like practicing in the old gym, knowing (my grandpa) played in that same gym. It’s crazy,” Brant Bragwell said. “I never met him. He’s been dead (since) before I was born.
“It’s kind of hard to wrap my head around it.”
The Bragwell name is not just a Belgreen legacy but a significant part of the school’s present. Brant and his cousin, senior forward Mason, are two of the top players on the boys team. Mason’s parents are Sherry and Dallas Bragwell.
They boys are also cousins with sophomore guard Scout and Scout’s sister Autumn, both of whom play hoops at the school, too (as did their parents).
Collectively, the current players’ three great-grandfathers were brothers. So while these Bragwells aren’t necessarily close to each other on the family tree, they share a big responsibility in helping the Bulldogs advance through the postseason.
“I try to enjoy it,” Brant Bragwell said of his final prep season. “I know it’s going to be gone.”
Brant and Mason became fast friends starting in first grade and through elementary school looked forward to P.E. class and Belgreen youth games.
Brant loved hoops right away.
“It was a like a getaway from everything. It was just different,” he said. “It was different than hunting and fishing for me. … I think I’m better at it than anything else.”
Mason, who is 6-6, said he was tall for his age years ago. But his interest in the game grew gradually, picking up “when I started getting good.”
“I liked it all through youth league, but I really started liking it (in) JV,” Mason said.
Belgreen coach Clint Isbell has seen improvement in both Brant and Mason since he took over as head coach their sophomore year, and he said both have worked hard over those years.
Mason has always loved shooting from the outside but has at times been less enthusiastic about being physical down low.
“His physicality, he’s gotten better at it. We’re still working on it. His mental toughness, that’s something we’ve continued to work on,” Isbell said. “Trying to get him to understand that he’s usually six to seven inches taller than most kids on the floor, and to work inside-out.
“He likes to shoot it from the outside, and he can, so we don’t mind that. But sometimes I don’t think he realizes how much bigger he is than everybody else.”
Brant handles the ball a lot for Belgreen, and Isbell said he has made great strides in his attitude thanks to maturity.
“Even in tenth grade, he saw the floor really well, shot it really well, but he’s matured as an individual and as a point guard,” Isbell said.
Scout Bragwell is also being asked to contribute from the perimeter for the Bulldog boys. Autumn Bragwell has a meaningful role on the Belgreen girls team, which has hit the 20-win mark this season and is ranked in the state’s top 10 in Class 1A.
All of them are working toward glory for their school and representing a family name in the process.
“The Bragwell name I guess you could say has been around for a while down here,” Brant said. “And I don’t want it to stop being around here either. So I guess that’s a big part of it.”