By Nick Talbot

Killeen Daily Herald

Belton athletic director Rodney Southern wanted a winner.

He got one.

Brenda Gomez, who coached Class 3A Robinson to a state championship in 2008-09, will take over the Lady Tigers basketball program, pending approval by the Belton school board at its June 20 meeting.

Gomez spent four years as the girls head basketball coach in Robinson ISD, going 24-5 overall and 8-2 in District 19-3A (second place) last season, but lost in the first round of the playoffs to Madisonville 44-32.

"She has been very successful and understands what it takes to build a program, and she did one of them from scratch," Southern said. "She knows the situation we are in and there is nothing you can replace experience with, and she has a bunch of it."

Prior to her work in Robinson, Gomez coached for 21 years in Portales, N.M., where she led the Portales Lady Rams to four state championships in a span of six years from 2001-2006. During those years, her teams were in the state championship game every season.

In her 25 years as a head coach, Gomez has accumulated 21 district championships and 10 state tournament appearances, with six state titles. She was named the District 17-3A coach of the year in 2008 and the District 19-3A coach of the year in 2009.

Gomez left New Mexico to be closer to her daughter, who lives in Dallas, and her mother, who lives in South Padre Island.

"I was really pleased we had a good pool of candidates," Southern said of the job search. "I just think she fits us and what we need for our program."

Belton, meanwhile, struggled last season, going 11-21 and 1-13 in District 12-5A under former coach Randy Bell. Belton has not had a winning record or made the playoffs since the Lady Tigers went 18-12 in 2004. Since then Belton has gone just 58-131.

Bell left the program to be more involved with his 24-year-old son, Tye, who suffers from Friedreich's Ataxia, an inherited disease that damages the nervous system.

Gomez already comes in with some experience against her new district, as Robinson lost to Copperas Cove last year 59-31.

Southern said the Belton program needs someone with experience winning to turn the program around.

"At this point we need to do some things fundamentally and get some more kids involved and I think she understands what you need to do program-wise," he said. "It might be a complete philosophy change from where we are to where we need to be."

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