Highlands boys basketball coach Stoczynski resigns after 9 seasons

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021 | 4:28 PM


Tyler Stoczynski won 131 games in nine seasons, including 108 over the past six years, as the Highlands boys basketball coach.

That run came to an end Tuesday evening when he informed the team and the Highlands administration that he would be stepping down from the position.

Stoczynski, who helped guide the Golden Rams to the 2020 WPIAL Class 4A championship, cited a job change outside of the district — he taught there for several years — and the desire to be there for his son who is going through a number of different therapy sessions.

“For me to make sure he gets to all of those, it was going to take some of that time commitment away from being able to be at all the practices and run things the way I would want to,” he said.

“It was a decision I felt that was best for my family if I was to step away at this time.”

Stoczynski said the decision to leave the team and its players was a tough one.

“It was super hard to look my guys in the face and to tell them that (Tuesday) night because of the relationships I’ve built with those guys,” he said.

“But when I think about it in the other terms, it was the easiest decision I could’ve made because I needed to do that for my family. It was hard and easy all at the same time.”

Stoczynski said this year’s team has the potential to be special. Last winter, Highlands went 13-6 overall and won the Section 4-5A crown with a 9-1 record. The Golden Rams suffered a tough loss to Trinity in the WPIAL first round.

“This team has all the possibilities to make this season all that they want,” he said.

“They have height, size, chemistry and great leadership. They have all the things you would want in a team. It’s just a matter of them putting it all together and making it happen at the end of the season when it counts the most.”

Highlands athletic director Drew Karpen said the search for the next boys basketball coach has begun with the posting of the job. He said the process, taking a look at both internal and external candidates, will probably go a little quicker than normal with the start of winter sports practices about a month away.

Karpen said Corey Dotchin, an assistant with Stoczynski since the start of his tenure at Highlands, remains close to the team for fall leagues and open gym workouts.

“I totally respect and completely understand Tyler’s decision,” Karpen said. “If he couldn’t commit 100%, he didn’t want to give less than he felt he should.

“He put the boys’ program on the map for consistency. He quickly formed a strong foundation for success, and he built on that foundation. You see what we are now as a year-in-and-year-out contender. That’s the expectation now and the expectation moving forward. We can’t thank him enough for all that he did for the program.”

Stoczynski reached milestone win No. 100 on Dec. 18, 2019, with Highlands’ 76-49 victory over Shaler at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland.

He was recognized for his accomplishment two days later during a home game against Yough.

That 2019-20 season resulted in the WPIAL championship. The Golden Rams defeated Belle Vernon 72-54 at the Petersen Events Center.

Highlands then defeated Harbor Creek in the PIAA first round before falling to Grove City in the second round.

The Golden Rams went 1-21 in his first season in 2012-13. The team avoided a winless season with a February victory over Valley.

The next year, Highlands jumped to nine wins.

The Golden Rams won 13 games in the 2014-15 season and made it to the WPIAL quarterfinals.

Highlands made it to the WPIAL Class AAA title game in 2016 before falling to Beaver Falls at the Petersen Events Center. It also advanced to the PIAA quarterfinals where it was stymied by section rival Mars.

After the 2015-16 season, Stoczynski served as a coach in the Roundball Classic.

“I will remember the first couple of seasons as things began to turn the right way for the program,” Stoczynski said.

“We beat West Mifflin when they were a three seed and we were a 14 seed. That was one of those wins where we saw we were getting traction, and guys were starting to buy in and understand what we were trying to do. Not only from the players’ standpoint, but from the administrators and community standpoint; to give us the support we had was super appreciated. There were a lot of good things throughout my time, and I woudn’t change any of it.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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