Preps Talk

Legendary St. Joseph coach Gene Pingatore wins No. 1,000

Legendary St. Joseph coach Gene Pingatore wins No. 1,000

Gene Pingatore had a hard time finding the words after making history on Saturday night.

Moments after Pingatore captured the 1,000th win of his illustrious career at St. Joseph, he was surrounded by cameras and people who have been apart of the St. Joseph boys basketball program during his 48 years of coaching.

"This is all about the people that helped get me here," Pingatore repeatedly said on Saturday night.

In front of a near sold-out crowd that was filled with many of the former players and managers that helped him become the first coach in Illinois high school boys basketball history to reach 1,000 wins, Pinagtore and St. Joseph knocked off St. Rita, 81-71, on Saturday night to advance in the Catholic League Tournament.

The win helps the Chargers (13-10) gain some momentum heading towards the state playoffs, but this night was mostly about Pingatore and his long-lasting legacy.

The 80-year-old Pingatore has been coaching at St. Joseph since 1969, leading the program to two state championships (1999 and 2015) and producing countless successful players across multiple decades.

Pingatore's most famous alum is undoubtedly Hall of Fame point guard Isiah Thomas and Pingatore has also coached talented players like Amal McCaskill, Daryl Thomas, William Gates, Evan Turner and Demetri McCamey.

One of the remarkable things about Pingatore, and his overall legacy, is his ability to connect and coach talented players over multiple generations. 

In just the last two years, Pingatore has coached players that went on to play at the high college level as Jordan Ash (Northwestern), Glynn Watson (Nebraska) and Nick Rakocevic (USC) all helped the Chargers capture that 2015 state championship in Class 3A.

Using a freshman point guard in Marquise Walker, the Chargers shockingly made it back down to Peoria last season despite Rakocevic being the team's only senior.  

The trip to Peoria was one of nine times that St. Joseph has played in the state finals during Pingatore's tenure. The Chargers also have 13 sectional titles and 32 20-win seasons during Pingatore's tenure. 

During one particularly strong stretch during the 1980s, St. Joseph won six sectional titles over a seven-year period from 1982 through 1988 -- although they never claimed a state title.

Basketball fans from all over the world might also be familiar with Pingatore as the high school coach at St. Joseph during the famous 1994 basketball documentary "Hoop Dreams." 

Considered one of the best sports documentaries of all time, the film followed the lives of two rising freshmen trying to make their way at St. Joseph. As the head coach who helped produce Thomas as the film's hook, Pingatore received a lot of screen time in the critically-acclaimed film.

Pingatore has a healthy lead on the Illinois all-time wins list among boys basketball coaches and he's the only coach to even reach 900 wins in the state. It will be years before we see anyone even come close to challenging Pingatore's impressive win total and he doesn't seem to be slowing down.

In the frenzy and celebration after the St. Joseph win on Saturday night, Pingatore spent a lot of timing talking photos with groups of former players and coaches. 

Amidst the sea of people, players and cameras, Pingatore sheepishly took selfies with younger players and remembered the names of hundreds of well-wishers who wanted to be apart of his historic night. 

Groups of players from years' past would call for Pingatore's attention for group photos every few seconds. It was a small glimpse of the impact he's made in nearly 50 years of coaching at St. Joseph.

97 Days to Kickoff: Back of the Yards

97 Days to Kickoff: Back of the Yards

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Back of the Yards

Head coach: Sheamus Murphy

Assistant Coaches: Will Johnson, Marty McNamara, Tim McNamara and Nick Teich

How they fared in 2017: 8-2 (6-0 CPL Great Lakes Conference). Back of the Yards made the Class 5A state playoff field. They lost to Solorio in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Week 1: @ Kelly

Week 2: vs. Goode

Week 3: @ Brooks

Week 4: vs. Schurz

Week 5: vs. Kenwood

Week 6: vs. North Lawndale

Week 7: @ Steinmetz

Week 8: vs. Payton Prep

Week 9: @ Clark

Biggest storyline: The Bobcats were a true feel-good story last season. Can the Bobcats build on its momentum and success going into the 2018 campaign?

Names to watch this season: OL/Dl Kevin Pacheco, WR/DB Carl McNickles, OL Armando Resendiz

Biggest holes to fill: The Bobcats bring back several returning starters from last season; however, can they find a new signal caller to replace the graduation loss of 2017 standout QB Jeremiah Harris (McKendree College)? 

EDGY's Early Take: One of the top stories from the 2017 season was the rise of this young program. The Bobcats made the IHSA state playoff field in just their third season of varsity football. As for 2018? The expectations have risen for this South Side school. A move to the CPL Illini Prairie State conference ramps up the overall competition level. If the Bobcats can find a steady signal caller, they have solid chance at competing for a potential IHSA state playoff spot come October. 

98 Days to Kickoff: Eisenhower

98 Days to Kickoff: Eisenhower

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Eisenhower

Head coach: Travis Moore

Assistant coaches: Vince Holmes, Justin Harris, Billy Viero, Mike Russell, Jeremey Rodrigues, Joe Groff and Terrance Streater

How they fared in 2017: 6-4 (3-3 South Suburban Red Conference), Eisenhower made the Class 6A state playoff field. The Cardinals lost to Normal West in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs. Rich South

Aug. 31 vs. Bishop McNamara

Sept 7 @ Reavis

Sept. 14 vs. Shepard

Sept. 21 @ Oak Forest

Sept. 28 @ Evergreen Park

Oct. 5 @ Oak Lawn

Oct. 12 vs. Argo

Oct. 19 vs. Richards

Biggest storyline: The new faces. The Cardinals graduated a whopping 21 starters from a season ago. Can head coach Travis Moore rely on his juniors to step up this fall?

Name to watch this season: WR Daylen Wilson

Biggest holes to fill: The Cardinals graduated 10 starters on offense and all 11 starters on defense from their playoff team last season. 

EDGY's Early Take: Coach Moore and his staff have done a great job in leading the Cardinals to the playoffs in two of the past three seasons. However, with just one returning starter back, this will undoubtedly be a young and inexperienced team this fall. They will need to find their A-game in a hurry against a front-loaded schedule.