In her third year as Belton’s girls head basketball coach, Brenda Gomez believes she is on the verge of turning around a program that has not reached the playoffs or produced a winning record since 2004.
After winning the 2009 state championship as head coach at Robinson, Gomez inherited a team that went 11-21 the season before her arrival, including a 1-13 district record. Since, she has attempted to reshape the Lady Tigers’ culture, hitting a recent peak by beating Copperas Cove on the road before winning three games at the Lady Badger Holiday Tournament, including an upset of Class 3A No. 11 Lorena.
Belton (6-11, 1-3) resumes district play Friday against Killeen at home.
Gomez spoke with Herald reporter Clay Whittington on Saturday after Belton won the silver bracket at the Lampasas tournament.
How did you feel about your team’s performance during bracket play, especially in the final game against Fredericksburg?
Honestly, I feel like, for the most part, we didn’t turn it over as much as we have. We weren’t hitting shots like crazy, but we were playing good enough defense to keep us in the game to create that. We held them to zero points in the third quarter, and that was nice to see. We were moving our feet pretty well, communicating, letting each other know where people were coming from and what they were doing, so that always helps.
Does all the recent success create added confidence for the team heading back into district play?
Oh, I think so. The competition is just a little different, but you’ve got to build that confidence somewhere, and I feel like this was a great time for our kids to step up and know that they are capable. Especially after beating Cove because it wasn’t like Cove let down. It was that we stepped it up.
For the tournament here, we played some really good teams and got in some close games. We blew a 13-point lead (against Corsicana during pool play), so we could have won another game. But overall, everything is a lot more positive, and I think the kids feel good about what we are going to do in district. This was good practice for us. We got in some good condition, and I thought the kids did really well.
And you got a quality win against a state-ranked team in Lorena.
Yeah, and that went back to us being ahead, and then we give it up, and then it got really tight. We’ve worked so hard lately just in the last couple years on fundamentals that practicing a situation, they haven’t heard of that yet. But we are getting there, though. Lorena is a good team, and I think the kids stepped up and played really good.
The team has improved its third-quarter play of late. What has changed?
I think it has come out of having some discussions with the team, and I think that they enlightened us a little bit on how they feel about some of our coaching strategies. I’ve always done it (by saying), if they don’t do this, which I know they can, then the end result is not going to happen for them.
Now, it is like, ‘OK, we did this, this and this really well. Keep doing that, that and that. Let’s work on this a little bit.’ But it is never, ‘if you don’t do this, then you won’t win.’ So, that has helped a little bit, I think. I also think the kids are now starting to believe in everything we are doing, and we are hanging in there in games we never hung in before. So, I think that makes a difference, too.
But the third quarters (lately), wow. Sometimes I hate to go in the locker room at halftime, but now I feel a little bit better. It is like, ‘OK, somebody else might get a little hot.’