Ron Briney credits his basketball players’ “ownership of the team” as the reason behind his success.
Later this year – coronavirus willing – he’ll be honored for that ownership.
Briney, the 28-year veteran Michigan Lutheran girls basketball coach, learned Sunday that he’s been inducted into the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan Hall of Fame.
“I’ve got 41 years of high school basketball coaching in,” he said. “I’ve had that longevity and level of success because the kids have had ownership of the program and its results.
Briney has compiled a stellar 481-147 record (.766 winning percentage). That includes 15 district and three regional titles.
He argues he’s won four regional titles, as the Titans were set to play in the regional finals in March before the season was postponed – and eventually canceled – due to coronavirus concerns.
“I count four,” he said with a laugh. “We tied for it, in my mind.”
His Titans have won 29 conference championships (Michigan Lutheran was a simultaneous member of the Cornerstone Athletic Conference and Red Arrow Conference from 2004 to 2014).
He’s been at Michigan Lutheran as a teacher and coach for 31 years over two stints. He coached junior varsity basketball in Minnesota for 10 years, and another 15 years for the Titans.
“John Eggert (Michigan Lutheran athletic director) got me started in coaching,” Briney said. “I’ve had him both as a mentor and as my AD. He’s been a huge positive mentor for me. I’ve appreciated his support and his help in keeping things going.”
He also cites several area coaches who offered advice and inspiration. Some of them are also in the BCAM Hall of Fame.
“Rick Bloodworth (retired St. Joseph coach), Jim Meier (Lakeshore), Jerry Schaffer (River Valley) ... Joe Jarvie (Lake Michigan Catholic), Randy Mast (New Buffalo), a lot of coaches. It’s just cool.”
In addition, he said he’s very thankful for the various varsity and assistant coaches that have surrounded him and helped him build and sustain the Titans’ girls basketball program.
One of Briney’s fondest memories is perhaps his most recent one – a team with a 22-1 record with enough talent to advance out of the quarterfinal round and into the semifinals.
“We lost to the eventual state champ each time in the quarterfinals,” he said. “We truly had a great chance this year. We were by far playing our best basketball.
“That tournament run could’ve been special. But they all are.”
The induction ceremony is scheduled for Oct. 10 at the Auburn Hills Marriott Pontiac Hotel. But the ceremony may be held virtually because of coronavirus.
“Summer ball has been non-existent,” the coach said. “We’d like to get the gym open in July. Right now, it’s pretty much been encouraging the kids to stay in shape.
“Fortunately we have six back from this past team. We’ll be pretty experienced. We’ll make happen what can happen, provided COVID-19 won’t interfere.”