This article was written by the late Andy Easton featured in Gillespie Area News in 2002, contributed to TheBenGilPost.com by Steve Joyce at the Gillespie Public Library
Jack Genetti is another of the long list of outstanding athletes who have played for Gillespie High School. During his time at GHS, the athletic teams were known as the “Zephyrs”.
After his freshman year, Genetti had to have surgery on his elbow which would keep him from playing football until his senior season. He also graduated from S.S. Simon and Jude grade school and therefore didn’t play organized basketball until he entered high school. However, he was a natural athlete and worked hard and developed into an excellent basketball player. He was a varsity starter on the 1939-40 and 1940-41 teams and led them to records of 22-8 and 23-5.
The 1939-40 team had Kieth Parker and Jerry Beyer returning from the state team of 1939. Coach Red Nicolet would whip this squad into another winning team and continue the tradition established by other great teams of the 1930’s. Genetti was about 6’2″ tall and a solid offensive player. He excelled at defense and his leaping ability made him one of the best rebounds to play at Gillespie in any era.
During the 1939-40 season, Gillespie defeated Granite City and the great Andy Philip, 41-39. Granite City would go on and win the 1940 State Championship. Philip would go on to Illinois and was a member of the “Whiz kids” and also played pro basketball for many years.
Another highlight of the season was our three victories over our arch rivals from Benld who also were a great team and had beat us in the county championship game in 1939. All three victories were decided by two points (31-29, 24-22, 22-20). We won the Macoupin County Championship by defeating Carlinville 31-21 as Genetti scored 14 points to lead the way. We lost to Hillsboro in the Regional Finals 32-30 but at this time both the first and second place teams in the Regionals were allowed to advance to the sectionals. At the Springfield Sectional, we beat Decatur 34-31 as Parker scored 16 points and Genetti added 9. We then lost to a very good Athens team 21-24.
The 1940-41 season was also very successful for Gillespie. We repeated as County Championships with an easy 45-29 victory over Staunton. Genetti hit seven baskets and four free throws for 18 points. Martin Stampick added 11 points and Bill Fellin scored 6. Our five losses this season came at the hands of Benld (9-14), Taylorville (20-28 and 20-27), Litchfield (25-27), and Carlinville (19-25) in the Regional Tournament.
Genetti was awarded an athletic scholarship to St. Louis University where he lettered in both football and basketball. He was also elected co-captain of the football team his senior year.