Pingatore reaches history with milestone victory


Ahmad Muhammad, Correspondent

During this boys’ basketball season, which also happened to be head coach Gene Pingatore’s 48th year coaching for St. Joseph, the Chargers achieved a very prestigious milestone for the man known affectionately as coach “Ping.” That milestone was him becoming the first Illinois High School Boys Basketball coach to reach 1,000 wins.
Entering the season, Pingatore would achieve the milestone, one what would turn out to be the team’s 13th win on the season. Win No. 13 would happen on February 11, 2017 against St. Rita, at home. It took a little longer than many wanted it to, as it was at the end of the regular season in the team’s 23rd game of the season.
The game, which happened in the first round of the Chicago Catholic League tournament, was a back-and-forth affair and a very entertaining game, with the Chargers finally prevailing by an 81-71 score. The Chargers used the production of six players in double digits to make history. It was fitting to see a team effort in order to give Coach Ping his 1000th.
As a player for St. Joseph, I would describe the moment as such: “Surreal, and I am proud to say that I am a part of some incredible history. Not everyone can say they can be a part of a team where their coach was the first to reach such a high mark. It felt like a movie since it took until the end of the season to do it. There had to be some way we could come together. The way was for Coach Ping.”
With the victory, St. Joseph headed into the postseason with momentum. Team chemistry was the best it had been all season. These factors were a perfect recipe for a March run. It’s amazing what “Playing for 1k” could do. It catapulted the Chargers into becoming a better team both physically and mentally.
The team finished the regular season with a winning record, but the momentum ended after a solid run in the CCL Tournament as the Chargers fell to Proviso West in the first round of the IHSA Class 4A playoffs in a regional semifinal game in Hillside.