Brad Ranson era 2.0 begins for Pueblo Central boys basketball

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

The Ranson family name is written all over the boys basketball program at Pueblo Central.

As in written on the very floor that the team plays on.

The Wildcats play on Jim Ranson Court at Pueblo Central High School. Brad was a legend in his own right for the school. And he got to coach his son Mike, who now plays at Fort Lewis College in Durango.

When Mike graduated in the spring of 2016, Brad walked away from the program that his family has been a part of for ages. He thought that Steve Gradisar was the guy that was going to be a good fit for the long-term future of the program.

"It just didn't work out," Brad said.

So when Gradisar left after last season, Ranson felt that he needed to come back in order to provide stability for a program that he had invested so much of his life in.

"I've been there for 25 years and I have a lot invested in it," he said. "It was a no-brainer to come back and help out the kids. I'm in education and that's what educators do."

The impact of Ranson's return was felt almost immediately. Even though not a single player from this year's varsity roster saw action the last time Ranson coached the team, they can appreciate everything he brings to the program.

Not just the personal investment that he has given over 25 years, but the actual basketball knowledge that he distributes on a daily basis.

"Being able to get him back as a senior is great," Austin Eccher-Salazar said. "Last year was really eh. This year we came in with more desire and we're a lot more energetic in the gym. Everything is better."

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

Ranson and the Wildcats fell 74-46 to Lewis-Palmer. The Rangers came into the season as the No. 4 team in the Class 4A CHSAANow.com rankings.

Even after just a one-year layoff, getting the team back to the level that he wants it to be is going to be a challenge and a journey.

"I knew it was going to be a big challenge," Ranson said. "When I left, I gave them seven or eight seniors and they did pretty well. I knew I had my work cut out for me and it's going to be a work in progress."

At the same time, old habits die hard.

Once Wednesday's game was underway, Ranson said he felt right back at home. Coaching basketball, like many things in life, can be just like riding a bicycle. Some things just naturally come back.

"First thing, I got right after the officials," Ranson said with a laugh. "It felt great."

And the product on the floor looked like a Brad Ranson team, even from the other bench. The Rangers jumped out to a fast lead, but coach Bill Benton knows that when Ranson is calling the shots, nothing can be taken lightly.

"You know you have to have a game plan coming in," Benton said. "He's going to have a game plan against you. I told my guys that I went back three or four years to watch film and find some of his patterns and tendencies."

What's most important for Ranson and for those at Pueblo Central is what he aims to do at the core of the job. He wants to coach the kids and make them better basketball players and teach them life lessons.

One of his best traits is his ability to relate to the players individually and not just as one collective unit.

"He knows how to coach each one of us," Eccher-Salazar said. "Not just us as a whole."

Ideally Ranson will stay in the job until the school figures out another long-term solution. He plans to retire in the next four years, but until then he'll be sitting right where everyone is used to seeing him, at the end of the Wildcats' bench.