Burgins chooses Francis Marion as new basketball home

Jun. 09, 2014 @ 10:59 PM

There have been several players who’ve contributed greatly to Southwest Guilford’s success the last few years. And Briana Burgins has certainly been one of them.

Now, after a strong four-year career that included winning an NCHSAA 4A state championship as a freshman, she has signed with Francis Marion University to continue her basketball career at the NCAA Division II level.

“It's really good,” she says. “It makes me feel like all the sweat, all the injuries, all the late nights and all the running and running I've done has all been worth it. I've finally accomplished one of my last few goals from high school.”

Burgins, the daughter of Curtis and Jerrie of High Point, began playing basketball when she was 5 years old at the Kernersville YMCA, where she was coached by her parents. Throughout her childhood, she enjoyed basketball and volleyball, continuing to play both through high school.

She started focusing on her game when she hit middle school. She joined an AAU travel team and honed her physical skills and mental approach to the game. As a seventh-grader, she didn’t play all that much. But after a strong summer, she came back a much better player as an eighth-grader.

That’s when she started to see everything come together. She started building some confidence. And after making the varsity team at Southwest as a freshman, she started outplaying older, more experienced girls for playing time and earned a starting role.

The Cowgirls had already had several successful teams before Burgins, who played AAU for the Greensboro Gaters and later for Kenny Carter’s Lady Phoenix and Lady Phoenix Xpress. But she thrived in helping them play at the highest levels.

“Coming in, it was a little intimidating because I wasn't used to the amount of work, the time and effort it takes,” she says. “All four years, all we've talked about is winning championships, games, tournaments – whatever it is.

“We've always had that level of winning and being the best young women we can be on and off the court. It can be intimidating, but you start doing the work and doing whatever your coaches or your teammates need you to do for us, as a whole, to be successful.”

As an in-between player, she worked hard to figure out her role on the court as a guard against smaller, quicker players and as a post against bigger, stronger players. She built her strength and conditioning and, combined with her volleyball background, excelled at defense.

Over the years, she embraced her leadership role and helped Southwest continue their winning tradition. During her four years, the Cowgirls won the Piedmont Triad 4A regular season four times and the PTC tournament three times and were a perennial playoff threat.

In addition to earning PTC Player of the Year as a volleyball player, she was chosen PTC Player of the Year as a senior, all-conference as a junior and team rookie of the year as a freshman. She was twice selected the Sheetz holiday tournament MVP.

“Briana's been a part of this program the last four years, and there's no more deserving athlete than she is,” Southwest coach Nick Scarborough says. “She's a great student-athlete – academically she's strong, athletically she's strong.

“She's just a natural leader. With her leadership skills, others get on board and follow her.  Athletically, she's just an absolute competitor. She takes tremendous pride in doing well. And when she sets her sights on a goal, she's not going to stop until she gets there.”

After her senior season, Burgins continued to weigh her college options that also included Guilford and N.C. Wesleyan. During an AAU showcase, the Francis Marion coaches went to watch her play. But she wasn’t there for the first game, because she was volunteering.

Fortunately, she was there for the second game, and the Patriots were convinced she would be a good fit for their program. So, after a few calls, she took a visit to the campus in Florence, South Carolina, in the spring. They offered her the same day, and she accepted.

“Picking a college can be stressful,” says Burgins, who wants to study pre-med. “You've got to think about: This is where you'll be living the next four years. So, you've got to think about how this college will help you grow as a person as you start the next chapter of your life.

“When I went to Francis Marion, I was so relaxed, so comfortable on campus. I like the coaches and staff a lot. They already had graduation and school was out. So, there was nobody on campus. When I saw it and looked around at everything, I was just like, 'This is the place I need to be.' It was just like home but in another state.”