Tutchstone resigns as Kiski Area boys basketball coach

Tuesday, March 27, 2018 | 1:06 PM

Joey Tutchstone didn't sleep much Monday night, but it had nothing to do with the 3-month-old baby in the house. He was dreading his scheduled meeting with his Kiski Area boys basketball players.

Tutchstone, the energetic former Kiski Area point guard who led the Cavaliers to the WPIAL semifinals as a player and coach, announced Tuesday he was stepping down after five seasons at the helm of his alma mater.

“I truly bleed blue and gold,” Tutchstone said. “This is my home. Kiski Area has given me everything. They've given me my career. I love my teaching job, and my love and what drives me to be here at Kiski is to do whatever I can for the kids. I do everything I can to help these kids in any way that I can academically, athletically, socially.

“It was the hardest for me to talk to those kids (Tuesday morning) because everything that I do, I do for the kids so they have the same experience that I experienced.”

Tutchstone said he weighed the decision about whether to return or resign for a month, talking to various people in his life, before coming to his decision.

He and wife Kristin welcomed their first child, Rowyn, in late December, and her birth — coupled with a desire to have more kids in the future — led to the final call.

“She's doing great,” Tutchstone said. “She's brought us so much joy to our life. She's the most important thing to me right now.”

In five seasons at Kiski Area, Tutchstone led the Cavaliers to a 41-68 record and a pair of WPIAL playoff appearances.

In 2013-14, Tutchstone's first season, Kiski Area went on a Cinderella run to the WPIAL semifinals as a No. 13 seed, upsetting Plum and Gateway before falling to top-ranked and eventual champion New Castle in the semifinals. They went on to the PIAA tournament.

That marked Kiski Area's best postseason run since 2002, when Tutchstone starred at point guard on another WPIAL semifinalist Cavaliers team that lost to New Castle.

“It was such a surreal experience,” Tutchstone said. “We talk about it all the time when I see those kids' parents. It was very, very surreal, and I will never forget that experience. Those kids have brought me so many great memories, and they appreciate it like no other. That's what makes me feel good in the end, that they were able to experience some of the same success I had.”

Kiski Area slipped to 1-21 and 0-10 in Section 3-5A play this season, as the Cavaliers replaced six of their top eight rotation players from last season's postseason qualifier. Junior Ryne Wallace, the team's top scorer, suffered a season-ending injury at midseason, hampering Kiski Area further.

Tutchstone said his relationship with his players and their willingness to work hard made him most proud of his tenure. He received text messages from several former players Tuesday.

“They've given me their all,” he said. “We haven't always been the most skilled teams, but they have always given me their 100 percent effort and have done the best and been respectful for me. The kids have always bought in, tried their best and didn't make excuses. I've had a great bunch of kids.”

A 2002 Kiski Area graduate, Tutchstone played at Pitt-Johnstown before returning home. He was an assistant to Harry Rideout for six seasons before taking over in 2013.

His resignation leaves Kiski Area with vacancies in boys and girls basketball. Girls basketball coach Nick Ionadi resigned last month.

“This is my home, and I've always had so much support here,” Tutchstone said. “I've always had the support from the staff, my bosses, my administration. It means everything, and I can't appreciate the time they've given me and the chance they've given me. That's what makes it so hard to step away.”

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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