UPDATE: Anthony Bratton allegedly transfers to OPS
December 15, 2016
On Thursday, Dec. 8, sophomore Chase Thompson stood up from the season’s first team dinner, joined the rest of his varsity basketball teammates, and went to take a picture.
All night, the atmosphere had a serious tone. The elephant in the room had been addressed more than once, and the future of their season was constantly conveyed through looks, words, and feelings.
The boys made their way towards the Booth family Christmas tree, and began to put their arms around each other. All looked at each other in sudden realization. The 6’7, 220 pound senior, usually center of their team photo, was missing.
Anthony Bratton was gone.
Although Bratton began to play basketball when he was six years old, it wasn’t until he came to Westside that he said that he truly began to realize his talent. Both his father and his uncle played, so he said that he knew that “the genes [had been] passed on.”
After making varsity as a freshman, Bratton began to build an impressive record as a forward, even after suffering a leg fracture in the off season of his sophomore year. Averaging 18 points and seven rebounds per game over the course of 23 games in the 2015-2016 season, Bratton helped lead the team to a 13-10 season record. Between advances from Drake and personal goals of attending K.U. or Kansas City, it comes with no surprise that Bratton is now a long-awaited college prospect.
With hopeful goals to reach the district championships and then state, Bratton said he was working hard to become more of a “vocal leader” during his last high school season as the Warrior’s only returning starter.
However, for Bratton, these goals will no longer be attained at Westside. Varsity coach Brian Nemecek can confirm that on Tuesday, Dec. 6, Bratton didn’t show up for practice, and texted another one of the varsity coaches at approximately 3:15 p.m. that he was transferring to Omaha South.
“When I found out, I honestly thought everyone was joking,” senior guard Mason Snover said. “I didn’t believe it at rst. The rst practice without him was varsity only, so with him not being there, [it] felt really empty.”
“I called him up, I talked to him on the phone, cause I’ve known him since I was in 7th grade,” sophomore forward Chase Thompson said. “I was mainly sad more than anything. Most people were angry, I was just sad, because he’s like a brother.”
“We had a great relationship, and I think Anthony would tell you that,” Nemecek said. “We were pretty tight. Great kid. Nothing negative to say about him. [I’d] do anything for him that I could, still, to this day. People make decisions for whatever reasons, and I can’t really answer the reason why [he] decided to leave.”
According to the Omaha World-Herald, as of Thursday, Dec. 8, OPS has no record of Bratton being enrolled at the home of the current Class A state champions. Principal Jay Opperman stated that as of Tuesday, Dec. 13, Bratton’s family initiated his withdrawal from Westside High School, but is unaware of him attending any other school at this time. Both Bratton and OPS representatives were unavailable to comment on this issue. As specified by NSAA bylaw 184.108.40.206, as an option-enrollment student, Bratton is permitted to attend any school in the district where his parents live and still be eligible to play varsity sports, regardless of the motives of his alleged transfer.
Thompson, who views Bratton as an inspiration and a mentor, said that his own reason for choosing to attend Westside was due to the prospect of playing with Bratton during his senior year. Thompson said that after contemplating Bratton’s departure, he realized that there was “a seat that’s not being filled,” and that this situation was an opportunity for him to step up and“do what I have to for the team.”
“He taught me that things are always better than they seem,” Thompson said. “Nothing’s [ever] that bad. Even though he [would] get a little emotional during losses, he’s always the person to pick it back up, and that’s what I take with me, pick it back up, don’t let [the team] get their heads down because you gotta lead the team now. You’re the leader now. That’s what he said when he left. He was like, ‘You gotta lead now.’”
On Thursday, Dec. 9, the Warriors were able to pull through for the first time without their starting center, defeating Lincoln High 66-52. Now with a 1-4 record, the Warriors are ready to continue their season, and Nemecek is confident that the team will surprise many.
“We just have to prepare for the season without a big man, a middle man, or a person that brings the team together,” Thompson said. “I think we have the capability of doing good things. But we just have to make sure that we bring energy. Hopefully when we see him later this year and play against him, it will be a good matchup.”