Litchfield boys hoops turns things around under Goscinski
WINSTED – Dan Goscinski has been a part of the Litchfield High boys basketball program for five seasons but this is the first season that the team is his and he’s making the most of the opportunity.
After biding his time and serving as an assistant under not one, but two head coaches, Goscinski has the Cowboys playing winning basketball once again.
The Cowboys had a run where they were one of the top teams in the Berkshire League but that ended over the last two seasons when they went 6-14 and 3-17. This season Litchfield is 10-8 with two games left in the regular season and has won more games this year than in the last two seasons combined.
Litchfield went up to face Northwestern on Monday night and while it was a frustrating 70-66 loss, the game did show how far the Cowboys have come.
Northwestern went up 15 in the first half and has been the only team in the BL to give regular-season champ Terryville any kind of game, losing to the Kangaroos by eight and six points. With the Highlanders threatening to run away with this one, the Cowboys dug in and got back in the game.
“We didn’t give the effort that a typical Litchfield team gives in the first half,” Goscinski said. “I have to give the kids credit for how they fought in the second half against a good Northwestern team. They realized if they wanted to get back into it and win they had to give more and they did.”
Senior Steven Ringquist hit a couple of huge threes in the fourth quarter and fellow senior Spencer Persechino made both ends of a one-and-one with two minutes to play to tie the game, 59-59. Northwestern ended up making one or two more plays than Litchfield to pull it out but again the Cowboys were in position to win a game that would have been a rout last season.
“The kids have worked hard to get to that next tier,” Goscinski said. “Terryville is really, really good but I think we can play with anyone in the league and the change this season is a testament to the kids and how hard they have worked in the offseason and during the season.”
Now it is Goscinski’s job to see that the program takes the next step and gets back to the top of the BL. After being on Jason Harlow’s staff, Goscinski did not get the job when Harlow left to be an assistant at Trinity College. Keith Lipinsky came in for one season but moved on to take over the AD job at New Milford and the school finally called Goscinski’s number.
That he was still at Litchfield to take the job in the first place is a testament to the players and Goscinski’s feelings for them.
“It was a rewarding feeling to get the job,” Goscinski said. “When I didn’t get the job last season I decided to stay on with Keith after I met with him. Keith is a great guy and I wanted to stay in the program. When I played at Thomaston I had three coaches in four seasons and I know how tough that is.
“It’s all about the kids. I don’t have an ego and I never want to. I thought it would be a good fit to have a familiar face around.”
Turns out Goscinski was right and now the Cowboys are headed back to the BL and State Class S tournaments.
“We have come a long way since last season,” Persechino said. “We are comfortable with each other and playing more as a unit. Coach has been here since I was a freshman and he’s awesome. He knew the players and the program and was a good fit. It has worked out great.”
“I love the kids at Litchfield, good kids and they work really hard,” he said. “I’m really pleased with the dedication to basketball again and it is exciting because I feel we still have a lot of room for improvement.”