Luko back as California boys basketball coach
California Area has a new boys' basketball coach. However, it certainly isn't a new name.
Steve Luko was hired for his second stint with the Trojans by the California Area School Board on Wednesday. The vote to hire Luko passed by 7-0 with one abstention. One board director was absent.
Luko, a 1974 California graduate, coached the Trojans for three seasons from 2002-04, winning a section title and taking the Trojans to the WPIAL playoffs all three seasons and the PIAA playoffs twice.
His record at California in that time was 45-31.
Luko's best season was 2002-03 when California went 19-6 and lost in the semifinals of the WPIAL Class A playoffs to eventual champion Union.
He resigned in 2004 because of family reasons and was replaced by Phil Pergola.
Pergola coached the Trojans until last season before resigning to take over as boys' basketball coach at Ringgold.
““I'm back,” Luko said with a smile. “But I never really was gone. I coached the middle school team the last four years and I missed being on the high school level.
“Even though I wasn't coaching (the high school team), I followed the program and went to most of the games.”
Luko was a finalist for the job, along with Bruno Pappasergi, who was Pergola's assistant last season.
Pergola, the school's athletic director, did not comment for the story, other than to say that Luko was not the recommendation of the athletic committee, which interviewed both candidates.
Luko said once the job opened he went after it for several reasons.
Along with missing being a high school coach, he noted that he coached the players on the varsity team when they were in middle school.
“I coached the players,” he said. “I know them and they know me. They wanted me to coach them again and I wanted to coach on the high school level again.”
Luko, who is retired from the insurance business, said he will run a continuity offense with the Trojans that will feature more ball movement and a controlled style of play.
“We will pass the ball around more,” he said. “I will know where the shots are coming from and all five kids will be involved in the scoring.”
The Trojans are coming off an 18-4 season in Pergola's final campaign that included a 56-50 loss in the preliminary round of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs.
Director Norm Hasbrouck, who serves on the athletic committee that interviewed both candidates and abstained from voting, declined to comment for this story.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.