A decade had passed since Bob Gongloff left the girls basketball program he had molded into a perennial contender at the district, regional and statewide level.
Ten years away from Bishop Carroll High School haven’t diminished Gongloff’s enthusiasm and optimism about Huskies girls basketball.
“I’ve been thinking about getting back into coaching the last few years,” Gongloff said Thursday evening. “When the opening came up at Bishop Carroll, I was talking with my wife and my kids. I decided I wanted to give it a shot. It’s in my blood and I’ve always loved to coach and work with kids. Another reason was at the (Bishop Carroll) Hall of Fame banquet in April, hearing what the girls from when I coached before had to say humbled me. It made me realize the impact I still can make.”
Bishop Carroll announced Thursday Gongloff will return as girls basketball head coach.
The Huskies will be in great shape if the 64-year-old coach rekindles the successful formula that led to a 333-86 record in 14 seasons, including back-to-back state championships and a pair of state runner-up finishes.
“I really want to see the program get back to where it has been, with basketball that both players and fans will enjoy,” Gongloff said. “I think we can accomplish this with hard work, dedication, discipline and a good attitude. I believe the sky is the limit with these ladies.”
The Huskies will return a solid base from last season’s team that former coach Crystal Horton led to a fourth-place finish in 6-A and the program’s first state playoff berth since 2009. Brittany Krug was named an all-Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference pick as a freshman this past season. Alli Farabaugh and Amanda Chumrik each currently are juniors, and Lea Sammarco, Ellie Yahner and Courtney Link currently are sophomores who played on an 11-13 team that won eight of its first 11 games prior to losing senior leader Brooke Mento to a season-ending injury.
“With Mr. Gongloff as our new coach, I see a bright future for our team,” Krug said in a statement released by Bishop Carroll. “Our potential was seen last year and I feel as if we did not reach our maximum. Looking at Coach Gongloff’s past, I am excited. I think our team needs discipline and we need to be pushed hard.
“With Coach Gongloff and Coach (Jim) Murphy joining our program, I think we have found that push.”
Gongloff will be assisted by Murphy, who has been Carroll’s junior high head basketball coach, and Julie Kovach, the Huskies’ junior high girls basketball coach last season. Murphy was a standout player at Penn Cambria and Mount Aloysius College.
“I am excited and nervous,” Gongloff said. “I want to get on the court and get back to working with the kids.”
Gongloff led Bishop Carroll to consecutive PIAA Class A titles in 2002 and 2003. Those two gold medal-winning squads were recognized by the Bishop Carroll Hall of Fame last month.
His 1996 and 1998 squads finished as state runner-up. Under Gongloff, the Huskies made five appearances in the Class A western final and four Elite Eight appearances (1994, 1995, 1997, 2001). His teams claimed four District 6 championships (1998, 2002, 2003, 2004) as well as a LHAC crown and four Appalachian Conference titles.
“The kids bought into the program and we became a family,” Gongloff said of those championship runs. “We were close. The more years I coached, it seems like the kids got better at what we did and helped the younger kids. They bought into our philosophies and what we wanted to achieve. I believe we did become a family.”
Bishop Carroll Athletic Director Joe Skura said his past success at Bishop Carroll and a brief tenure at Penn Cambria made Gongloff a natural choice.
“I have known him for years, and I know there aren’t many people out there with his knowledge of the game, discipline and dedication to basketball,” Skura said. “I believe Coach Gongloff is prepared to challenge our students all-around, making them better on and off of the basketball court.”
Gongloff is ready to get started.
“I’m excited to be back. We’ll see how we do in the summer league,” he said. “It’s going to be a whole new system. When I coached before it took a while to get implemented. But with the kids we have, I think there will be some quick learners.”
Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/masty81.