The win total of St. Joseph coach Gene Pingatore is staggering. But since he has so far distanced himself from any other coach’s win total in state history –– former Rockford Boylan coach Steve Goers is second with 881 career wins –– the mark has become a bit forgotten and under-appreciated.
Now, with Pingatore one victory from reaching the historic number of 1,000 coaching wins, it’s time to take stock again in what this legendary coach has accomplished over a remarkable 48 seasons.
Pingatore, who has won two state championships, 13 sectional titles and taken nine different teams to the State Finals, has averaged nearly 21 wins a season over five decades. Most importantly, through all the success Pingatore has done it all with class while earning respect from opposing coaches and those in the basketball world.
Yes, it’s been a rocky, up-and-down season thus far for the 12-10 Chargers. But remember, in the past two seasons Pingatore guided the Chargers to a Class 3A state championship in 2015 and finished fourth in the state last season.
Pingatore will go for win No. 1,000 in this week’s Catholic League Tournament. St. Joseph will host St. Rita this Saturday in the opening round.
The talk surrounding the unbeaten teams in the Chicago area is getting more and more serious, especially when you consider the historical perspective of it.
The 1993-1994 season was the last time the Chicago area featured two teams with unbeaten regular season records. It’s been 20-plus years since both Joliet Twp. and King began regional play with identical 25-0 records.
You have to go back 39 years, to the 1977-1978 season, for more than two unbeaten teams as Lockport, St. Laurence, King, East Leyden and Benet all finished the regular season with perfect records.
With a handful of games to be played in this 2016-2017 regular season, Bolingbrook, Geneva and Fremd all remain unbeaten. All three will be tested but favored in their remaining regular season games and are in position to be awarded a No. 1 seed in their respective sectional.
If Bolingbrook and Geneva can run the table and win a sectional championship, it would set up a monumental battle of unbeatens in the super-sectional. But there is a lot of high-stakes basketball to be played before a 33-0 Geneva would meet a 29-0 Bolingbrook in the DeKalb Super.
The very top of the Class 2A Guerin Sectional will be every bit as tough as any Class 3A sectional in the state. That’s where you will find DePaul Prep, Orr and Uplift, three teams all capable of bringing home a state trophy from Peoria in March.
But regardless of how the seeds play out next week when seeding is done for all Class 1A and 2A schools, Uplift, currently the state’s No. 1 ranked team in Class 2A, is guaranteed to have the toughest road.
With all three Class 2A powers placed in one of the two sub-sectionals of the Guerin Sectional, two of these state title contenders will be forced to meet in a regional final. Both Orr and DePaul Prep will be regional hosts, thus Uplift will likely have to beat both, including one on the road in a regional final.
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