St. Joseph coach Gene Pingatore captures his 1,000 win Saturday 02-11-17. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.

St. Joseph coach Gene Pingatore wins his 1,000th game

SHARE St. Joseph coach Gene Pingatore wins his 1,000th game
SHARE St. Joseph coach Gene Pingatore wins his 1,000th game

St. Joseph’s Gene Pingatore, 80, has seen it all in 48 years as a coach: drive by shootings, injuries, family distractions, hothead players and even movie stardom. But the hoopla surrounding his 1,000th win was a bit much, even for him.

“It is a relief, now I can just concentrate on coaching,” Pingatore said. “The week was a zoo, a big distraction. The kids were good, we just talked about winning the game.

The Chargers beat St. Rita 81-71 in the first round of the Catholic League Tournament on Saturday in Westchester to give Pingatore his 1,000th victory. Hundreds of fans swarmed the court after the game to wish him well and take photos. Pingatore is the state’s all-time leader in coaching wins, but he’s best known as one of the stars of the 1994 documentary Hoop Dreams.

“It’s not about the 1,000 wins,” Pingatore said. “Think about all the people that contributed to the 1,000 wins. All the players, all the assistant coaches, the fans who have been following us. They all made it possible, it’s not me.”

St. Rita (12-10) led 39-37 at the half. The Chargers aren’t having a great year, so for awhile there was a worry that Pingatore would have to win number 1,000 in a consolation bracket game tomorrow.

His team came through. St. Joseph closed the third quarter on an 11-0 run to take control of the game.

“We came together in practice and said we were going to do it for him instead of ourselves,” Chargers junoir Joffari Brown said. “He wanted it bad. He didn’t say it, but we know he wanted to win so we went out there and gave it to him.”

Dozens of former players were on had to watch the historic moment. The school even had Gene Pingatore bobbleheads for sale.

“It’s about the relationships that were developed,” Pingatore said. “If you don’t have that and its just about wins and losses then you have nothing. It would be a very shallow victory. The fact that they all come back, hopefully I did something right.”

Earlier in the week rumors swirled that St. Joseph’s talented sophomore guard, Marquise Walker, had transferred. Walker missed a couple of games (due to injury according to his father) but is back with the team now. He led the Chargers (13-10) with 19 points.

“I appreciate everything [Pingatore] has ever done for me,” Walker said. “He’s a legendary coach, the best. No high school coach in Chicago is better. It’s a father/son relationship. Through the good and the bad I’m just happy he’s here with us. I’m just praying to god that he stays healthy. We need him.”

Junior Jordan Boyd scored 16 and grabbed 10 rebounds. Jalen Boyd added 10 points and nine rebounds and Ahmad Muhammad scored 11.

Pingatore has no plans to retire, he says he will be back coaching next season.

“Absolutely, I plan on it at least,” Pingatore said. “What would I do if I retired? That’s an even worse question.”

Gene Pingatore’s career

1969-70: 3-13

1970-71: 9-16

1971-72: 15-10

1972-73: 10-13

1973-74: 16-8

1974-75: 16-7

1975-76: 7-18

1976-77: 16-10

1977-78: 31-2 (2nd)

1978-79: 26-3

1979-80: 19-6

1980-81: 24-4

1981-82: 29-2

1982-83: 26-5

1983-84: 25-8 (4th)

1984-85: 20-7

1985-86: 30-1

1986-87: 28-3 (3rd)

1987-88: 26-4

1988-89: 23-5

1989-90: 25-4

1990-91: 23-4

1991-92: 26-2

1992-93: 20-8

1993-94: 20-8

1994-95: 22-8

1995-96: 19-7

1996-97: 21-7

1997-98: 20-7

1998-99: 32-1 (1st)

1999-00: 22-8

2000-01: 5-20

2001-02: 18-9

2002-03: 20-8

2003-04: 23-6

2004-05: 28-2

2005-06: 28-2

2006-07: 25-5

2007-08: 21-7

2008-09: 26-4

2009-10: 22-7

2010-11: 10-17

2011-12: 20-9

2012-13: 18-13

2013-14: 23-7

2014-15: 29-6 (1st)

2015-16: 25-9 (4th)

2016-17: 13-10

Total (48 years): 1000-352

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