(2-11-17)  It was a history making night in Illinois Boys High School basketball, thanks to an 80-year old head coach Gene Pingatore, who picked up his 1,000th career head coaching win. All 1,000 wins have come at the same school, Weschester St. Joseph. His first year was the 1969-70 season when the Chargers went 3-13.

Pingatore’s milestone win came when Weschester St. Joseph picked up a 81-71 Catholic League first round playoff win over St. Rita’s.


Pingatore who is already the winningest coach in Illinois boys basketball history is 119 wins ahead of Steve Goers (Rockford Boylan) who has 881.


[1.] 1,000*, Gene Pingatore, Westchester (St. Joseph), 1969-2016 (1,000-353)
[2.] 881, Steve Goers, Bardolph, 1968; Oswego, 1973-75;
LaSalle (L.-Peru), 1975-78; Harvard, 1979-81; Rockford (Boylan),1981-2011 (881-264)
[3.] 826, Dick Van Scyoc, Armington, Washington, Peoria (Manual) (826-399 from 1950-94, 44 years)
[4.] 811, Arthur Trout, Centralia (811-330), 1915-51
[5.] 792, Vergil Fletcher, Pana, Mt. Pulaski, Collinsville (792-234)

Pingatore told the Chicago Tribune after the game:

“There were a ton (of former players) here,. It’s about the relationships that were developed. If you don’t have that, and it’s about wins and losses, you don’t have nothing.”

Asked what the future held for him?

“I will be back. What would I do if I retire?”

According to the NFHS , Pingatore is just the 15th boys basketball coach to have a 1,000 or more wins. Robert Hughes is all-time career coaching win leader with 1,333 (1959-2005), Hughes coached two Dallas teams.

Pingatore, depending on how long he remains in the coaching business could move into the Top 10.  Ron Bradley, who is at #10 has 1,019 wins.


Record /Holder /State /School

  1. 1,333 Robert Hughes TX (Ft. Worth I.M. Terrell; Ft. Worth Dunbar) 1959-2005 (1,333-265) [83.4%]
  2. 1,274 Morgan Wootten MD (Hyattsville DeMatha) 1957-2002 (1,274-192) [86.9%]
  3. 1,162 Bob Hurley NJ (Jersey City St. Anthony) 1974-2015 (1,162-118) [90.7%]
  4. 1,122 Ralph Tasker NM (Sulpher Springs, OH; Lovington; Hobbs) 1941-98 (1,122-291) [79.4%]
  5. 1,096 Bill Krueger TX (Cameron-Cameron Yoe; San Marcos; League City Clear Creek; Houston Clear Lake) 1958-96 (1,096-250) [79.4%]
  6. 1,089 Joel Hawkins LA (Baton Rouge Southern Lab) 1966-2008 (1,089-272) [81.5%]
  7. 1,055 Morgan Gilbert AR (Tyronza; Bay; Tuckerman)1966-2012 (1,055-580) [64.5%]
  8. 1,026 Leslie Gaudet LA (Pine Prairie) 1947-70 (1,026-353) [74.4%]
  9. 1,021 Walter VanHuss TN (Hampton; Kingsport Dobyns Bennett) 1953-89 (1,021-313) [76.5%]
  10. 1,019 Ronald Bradley GA (Covington Newton County; Monroe George Walton; Dublin Trinity Christian; Loganville; Monticello Piedmont; Port St. Joe; Atlanta Greater Atlanta Christian; Conyers Heritage) 1958-2010 (1,019-322) [90.0%]
  11. 1,018 John Guice TX (Midway Henrietta) 1961-2005 (1,018-504) [66.9%]
  12. 1,012 Robert McDonald MN (McGregor; Barnum; Chisholm)1956-2014 (1012-428) [70.3%]
  13. 1,001 Jerry Peters TN (Memphis University School) 1964-2012 (1001-429) [70.0%]
  14. 1,001 Robert High TN (Chattanooga Brainerd) 1976-2013 (1,001-307) [76.5%]
  15. 1,000 Gene Pingatore IL (Westchester St. Joseph) 1969-2016 (1,000-353) [80.2%]

During his career Pingastore has had only five losing seasons, that last being in 2010-11 when his team went 10-17.  He won thirty or more games in three seasons.

Pingatore’s Record

His most well-known player, Isaiah Thomas told the Chicago Tribune this week:

“All the years that he’s been coaching, it doesn’t matter — one through 15, if you are a starter or bench player — he gives everyone their all. The fact that he’s one win away from 1,000 is remarkable.”

Pingatore was also known around the country when he appeared in ‘Hoop Dreams’  a 1994 documentary film. It follows the story of two African-American high school students in Chicago and their dream of becoming professional basketball players, both would attend St. Joseph and play for Pingatore.