Briones selected to lead Chargers hoops program

Brownsville ISD announced Tuesday that Santa Maria’s Albert Briones has been selected to be the new boys basketball coach at Brownsville Veterans Memorial.

Briones, a graduate and former athlete of Santa Maria, spent the past 10 years as the Cougars’ hoops coach. He compiled a 228-112 career record and led his alma mater to 10 consecutive playoff appearances. Briones simultaneously served as the head coach for the boys and girls programs for a period of time.

“The Brownsville community and Charger family have opened their arms to me, and I feel very blessed,” Briones said. “It was hard to leave (Santa Maria). That’s where I went to school, and I think I built it into something different. We had always been solid, but we moved up and improved and went to the playoffs consistently. I just felt I needed a change and I wanted to take that challenge of going to a bigger school, and I just felt it was time.”

Under Briones’ direction, the Cougars were a consistent RGV power at the Class 2A level. They won six District 32-2A titles and reached the Sweet 16 twice. Briones is a five-time district coach of the year and two-time Valley Morning Star All-STAR coach of the year.

Following the 2019-20 season in which Santa Maria reached the regional tournament, Briones received the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Outstanding Coach award and was a finalist for the Don Coleman Coach of the Year award.

“Coach Briones has a strong track record of success, leadership and professionalism and is considered one of the top coaches in the Rio Grande Valley,” BVM athletic coordinator/football coach Kelley Lee said in a press release. “He clearly demonstrated a plan and vision for leading our boys’ basketball program into the future, and we know it is in great hands.”

Briones will be replacing longtime BISD basketball coach Larry Gibson, who retired from coaching following the 2020-21 season. Even though his contract doesn’t officially begin until today, Briones has been going to BVM for three weeks now, working with the basketball boys during strength and conditioning and the sport-specific hour to practice.

He has watched a lot of film on the Chargers and already has a list of things he wants to focus on. He’s thankful to be keeping BVM’s veteran coaching staff together to help with consistency during the transition.

“I’ve been showing up for the last three weeks, making sure these kids got a little bit of what they’re going to see this year,” Briones said. “They’re excited, they’re hungry. You can see it in their face, they’re like sponges absorbing everything, and slowly we’re starting to look like a team. I’m excited and I know they’re excited, and we just have to go step by step and hopefully in a few months we’ll be ready.

“We’re going to make a better effort to take care of the ball,” he continued. “I’m not going to change what I do, I’m going to try to keep it simple. We’re going to play hard, we’re going to be aggressive and I just want to bring that different kind of mentality that we’re going to be ready to play for four quarters.”

Briones has long been an admirer of the facilities at Brownsville Veterans, and he’s thankful to now have the keys to the program. He knows the expectations are high, and he feels prepared to answer the challenge and make the Chargers better.

“There’s no way I can fill Coach Gibson’s shoes, but we’re going to do our best. I’ve already sat down with him, and he wants the best for that program and he told me, ‘I know you’re going to do well,’ and he gave me his blessing. That’s like, wow, there you go,” Briones said.