MELSTONE – Ed Grebe had his spot, his one chair in the corner of the gym.
The longtime community staple never missed a Melstone basketball game, where his son Jason has coached the boys team for the past 18 years. The past four years have carried extra weight as Ed’s grandson Brody has put together the early stages of his sensational career in Broncs blue and yellow.
That chair sits empty now.
Ed Grebe passed away on Feb. 11. He was 82.
“I always look to that corner, because he always was there. I used to just talk basketball with him all the time,” Jason Grebe said.
Ed Grebe was a fine high school basketball player at Sumatra in the 1950s. Though he never played collegiately and never coached, Ed was always Jason’s assistant and taught his grandsons plenty about the game.
More, though, Ed Grebe taught his family about life. Jason and his sons – Brody, Bryce, Pistol and Cash – live next door on the family ranch, the boys growing up in their grandparents’ house as much their own and working side by side with the family patriarch, who bypassed college to work the family’s 3,000 sheep before eventually running cattle.
He was a cornerstone of the family and Melstone community ever since, helping establish Melstone Congregational Church.
“My dad was one of the toughest guys I ever knew,” Jason Grebe said. “He was always one of those guys, ‘When the chips are down, you’re all right. Get through it.’ That’s what he would say. I told Brody, I said, ‘You know what he would say: You don’t mope around, you don’t stay home, you don’t want attention. You just get through it and you’ll be all right. That’s what you do, because that’s what he would do.’”
From the ranch to the rodeo arena to the basketball hardwood, Brody Grebe learned a lot from his grandpa. He put those valuable life lessons to work last week, battling through tears and sleepless nights to take the court in Miles City for the District 4C tournament.
In his first game after his grandpa’s passing – an 80-6 win over Northern Cheyenne in the first round – Brody Grebe scored 35 points, throwing down eight dunks in the victory. He added 33 more points and another dunk in the Broncs’ 77-48 win over Wibaux in the semifinals.
He then scored 22 points in a 49-30 championship win over Terry, helping the Broncs’ clinch the conference’s No. 1 seed for the Southern C divisional tournament in Laurel.
“I just told him before the games, ‘Just play for Pa and play hard,’” Jason said. “He played hard and I just felt like his grandpa was with him. It inspired him. Trying to keep the emotional highs and lows when you’re in a tournament and you’re undefeated, I was just proud of him.”
Brody Grebe has been making his dad – and grandpa Ed – proud all season. Still just a junior, he’s become one of the best players in Class C and is drawing interest from college programs around the state. With every dunk and each win, the pressure mounts and the bulls-eye magnifies.
Jason Grebe knows Reed Point-Rapelje coach Jerry Thompson will have something special to throw at Brody and the Broncs in Thursday’s first-round matchup at 1 p.m.
But he also knows that, when the chips are down, his son will get through it.
“My dad, it’s an inspiration,” the coach said. “It’s going to drive Brody. He went crazy at districts, and I expect the same at Laurel.”