June 15, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Loara basketball players continue season after death of beloved head coach Ed Prange

Loara officials are dealing with the death of popular boys basketball coach Ed Prange. (Photos courtesy Loara Athletics).

Loara High School’s boys varsity basketball players took the court Monday afternoon with a heavy heart for a game just five days following the death of their beloved head coach Ed Prange.

Co-Athletic Director Todd Rolph said Monday that the players voted Friday to continue their season. Loara met Western Monday in the Euclid Extravaganza Tournament hosted by Loara and Garden Grove. Western won 50-44 in double overtime in a tournament that Prange was instrumental in starting and running.

A moment of silence was held before the game, attended by a number of coaches who coached with or against Prange.

Loara officials named long-time assistant coach and former Saxon basketball player and Loara graduate Mohammad Abudhadwan as interim head coach. He’s in his 11th year with the program.

Prange, 59, died suddenly on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, Nov. 23 at a relative’s home, according to long-time friend Cork Snider, former basketball coach at Savanna and La Quinta. Exact cause of death has not been determined.

Prange was head boys basketball coach at Loara for 33 years after coaching the Orange girls basketball team at his high school alma mater for one year. He had nearly 500 victories at Loara, Snider said.

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Prange led Loara to five league titles and more than 20 appearances in the CIF playoffs, according to Snider, now a teacher at La Quinta. He was also named Orange County coach of the year by the Orange County Register in 2001.

“He was a a man that never gave in, stayed in one spot, and coached .500 (record) teams for 33 years,” said Snider.

“Twice won the last game of the league season when going 0-9. Once won last two league games after going 0-8. No one does that. He went two hour of practice faithfully all the time.

“This guy was relentless in his effort. It was two hours every day, from the beginning of the season until the last game. He never cancelled a practice; he missed two practices in 33 years. He was so fatherly, he wrote kids letters and he had a daily word of encouragement every single day in practice. He was like a teacher. He was such a model citizen, he did everything right.”

Rolph said Loara coaches and players were stunned of Prange’s death.

“It was totally unexpected, when I got the phone call on Thanksgiving evening, I couldn’t believe it. I had seen coach all three days during the week at school during practice and games and he was in good spirits, so it’s quite shocking. I still can’t believe it,” he said.

“He’s a larger than life figure and it’s just strange. He came in 1990 and had some success. He had a whole lot of playoff appearances and he had four or five league championships. For many years, he was coaching and we were playing in some leagues that our kids were over-matched but he got everything out of them. He measured his success in building these young men and teaching them how to live life the right way.”

School officials, including Rolph and the other AD Scott Wilson met with the players on Friday and district officials provided grief counselors for players, students and administrators. The counselors were also available on campus Monday, Rolph said.

“By then, the boys later in the evening, the word had gotten out by social media,” Rolph said. “So they already knew what had happened, but we brought them in and had some time together in the gym and spoke a little bit with them and basically asked them what they wanted to do as a group.

“Coach Mo and the players got together and we gave them some time to talk and the leader of their team waves us over and as we were walking over, he gave us the thumbs up, that they wanted to play in coach’s honor. Everyone was 100 percent on board.”

The players took the rest of the day off Friday and then returned for practice Saturday. Another meeting was held Monday with the players.

“District personnel was down here today, district personnel was actually here at Friday’s meeting and let the players know what was available and they’re still here all day for any staff member or student who needs any assistance,” Rolph said. “Our district has been very supportive.”

Prange was a long-time social science teacher who recently moved into the physical education department and took over the cheerleading advisor role. He was also the department chair of the PE department, Rolph added.

He constantly showed dedication and leadership for the athletes.

“The kids could immediately tell that he cares,” Rolph said. “A lot of coaches don’t convey that passion that he has for them. He’s always available for them. He had a set of rules. I was speaking with him last Friday. He’s a big, larger than life guy, but he wasn’t intimidating and the kids knew that he cared and he was able to share that passion for the game.”

Rolph outlined on a poster outside of the gym the important characteristics Prange often shared. Players have been coming buy to sign it.

“Some of the things he tried to go by through the years were: be on time, be prepared, listen, every day matters and little things mean everything so that’s kind of how he coached,” Rolph said.

“He understood our kids, and our kids come from some tough backgrounds, a lot of them don’t have a male figure at home and he was it, and he demanded a lot out of them and these kids gave it to them. He had that connection. Going back 33 years at one place, you don’t see that very often.”

Prange was a former president of the Southern California Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association for many years.

The 6-8 Prange played high school basketball at Orange, where he was a two-time all-league player and at Santa Ana College before a back injury ended his basketball career, Snider said. He received his degrees at Cal State Fullerton, Azusa Pacific and Chapman University.

Snider said Prange had a wonderful sense of humor, the two would often share humorous stories in person and in texts.

Prange also dealt with adversity well.

“He was incredible in the locker-room after a loss,” Snider said. “He was always brief and positive and he always sent kids home in a positive way. He felt that he found a home at that place. He was a great coach, a great molder of people.”

Orange County coaches have shared their fond memories of Prange on social media since his death.

“Coach Prange and I would talk on almost a daily basis,” said Santa Ana Coach Zach Johnson told OC Sports Zone Monday. “His mentorship is something that I will never forget and will cherish. Coach was the ultimate professional. He would coach him team to the very end even if his team was losing by a ton or winning by a ton. 

“Our last conversation was last Thursday and we were talking about being gracious in defeat as well as when you win. He taught me so much and was one of the best basketball coaches I’ve ever seen.” 

Prange was born on March 2, 1964. He and Snider would often recall that was two years to the date that former NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a game. Snider said a personal tribute he wrote about Prange had received about 3,000 views as of Monday afternoon since being published.

Prange is survived by his wife Marcella, his brother Bob Prange and his father Hal Prange. Ed Prange and his wife did not have any children, Snider said.

Funeral will be on Saturday, Jan. 6 at 1 p.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Orange, Snider added.

—Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com