Central Pennsylvania boys' basketball institution picks up his 750th career coaching win

JAKE ADAMS
The (Carlisle) Sentinel (TNS)
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The celebration was quiet and subdued in comparison to some of the other milestone moments he's had in his career, but Trinity head coach Larry Kostelac Jr. wasn't complaining.

An institution of Shamrocks boys basketball for the last 37 years, Kostelac became one of the few high school coaches in the state to hit 750 career wins Monday night. The Shamrocks popped Lancaster Mennonite 66-53, improved to 2-2 on the season and secured another feather in Kostelac's already stuffed cap.

"They're all separate and distinct because they're all achieved by a different set of kids," he said Tuesday on the phone. "I'm not real big on personal stuff. I have to admit, last night was very touching."

Masks on and in front of a sparse crowd of home Trinity fans, Kostelac celebrated posing for pictures with his players, staff and a sign commemorating the moment. After, the school laid out a few tables in the main hall with some cupcakes.

It was all in keeping with a milestone achieved in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, but still a welcomed moment for the longest-tenured coach in the Mid-Penn Conference, and one of the winningest in the history of Pennsylvania high school basketball.

"Even though it was scaled back, it was a great evening for us," he said.

Kostelac said he takes joy celebrating with family and players, and each milestone is different because they come with different players every few years.

He won't linger long in the moment.

The Shamrocks have won seven straight District 3 championships and would like to extend that number this season, but they have to do it with a completely revamped roster.

Blue chip recruit Chance Westry transferred out of Trinity in the summer, heading to Sierra Canyon High School (California). And multiple other players graduated from last year's PIAA quarterfinalist.

A pair of juniors, Talik Wall and Julian Gabbidon, lead the team in scoring through four games, both in double digits. The Shamrocks lost two straight with Kostelac stuck at 749 wins before Monday's victory.

And the pandemic, which has dramatically altered the winter calendar, has forced teams, including Trinity with all its new parts, to build quickly.

"It's compact, and therefore there's a big sense of urgency," he said. "There have been a number of challenges in the few weeks we've been back."