‘Revitalized’ Gary Goga hired as Keystone Oaks boys basketball coach

Monday, May 24, 2021 | 12:44 PM

Boys basketball coach Gary Goga, who built Peters Township into a WPIAL championship program in his 15 seasons there, is ready for another challenge.

His next project: Keystone Oaks.

Newly hired, Goga scheduled his first open gym for Monday night, the first step in building up a basketball program that won only one game last season. The coach went 172-179 in 15 seasons at Peters Township and won a WPIAL title in 2009.

He spent this past winter as an assistant at Bethel Park.

“I feel revitalized,” Goga said. “I remember 15 years ago when we stepped into Peters, we had some things that we needed to get going. They’d had a couple of tough years … but we got lucky. We got some good players, and we had some outstanding people that helped us build a really good program. I kind of look at KO the same way now.”

Keystone Oaks went 1-9 overall last season and 0-8 in Section 1-4A.

With much work ahead of him, Goga didn’t waste any time getting started. He quickly scheduled an open gym and a meeting with parents.

Goga was hired to replace Phil McGivney, who went 28-49 in four seasons.

“I’m excited to get things going and try to build something,” Goga said. “Being at Peters a long time, those are 15 of the best years of my life. Hopefully, I can say the same 15 years from now at KO.”

Athletic director Mark Elphinstone said the school received around 20 applications and interviewed 11 candidates. However, once Goga added his name to the list, the school’s choice became clear.

“The desire that Gary has puts him above everybody else we interviewed,” Elphinstone said. “The intensity of the interview on the Zoom call was amazing. We had some other good interviews, but he hit it at the right time. We were all ready to go.”

Keystone Oaks’ school board doesn’t officially approve contracts for winter sports coaches until October, but Elphinstone said he reached out to board members and secured their support for hiring Goga.

“I think we’re very lucky that he fell into our lap,” said Elphinstone, who already has heard from athletes in the school excited to join the basketball team.

“I know the kids are looking forward to it,” he added. “It’s a more high-profile hire, one of our biggest hires other than Greg Perry coming over from Seton (as football coach in 2014). I think it’s going to be a good thing all around for the Keystone Oaks School District.”

Goga will have a familiar face on his bench. Johnny Lee, who coached Seton LaSalle to a WPIAL title in 1989, will be one of Goga’s assistants. As head coach at Baldwin, Lee gave Goga his first job as a volunteer assistant in 1999.

“It’s crazy how life comes full circle,” Goga said. “It’s going to be fun. He’s a guy I really look up to. Having him along for the ride is going to be really enjoyable.”

Peters Township reached the playoffs nine times in Goga’s 15 years. His best season was 2008-09, when the Indians went 23-3 and defeated Mt. Lebanon in the WPIAL Class 4A finals. That was Peters Township’s first championship appearance.

Now, he takes over a Keystone Oaks program that’s hungry for some success.

“The potential there is huge,” Goga said. “Hopefully, we just build off of what we have and get things going.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .


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