Last March, arguably the greatest boys basketball season in Cuba City history closed before the Cubans could see it all the way through.
Cuba City was a perfect 25-0 and within a win of clinching a berth in the Wisconsin Division 4 State tournament when the coronavirus outbreak forced the cancellation of prep sports across the country.
“It was one of those years where everything came together,” said Jerry Petitgoue, Cubans coach for the past five decades. “We had no major injuries. The kids got along and they worked for a common goal.”
Never the less, the moment last season ended, Petitgoue began thinking about the upcoming year for his team.
Maybe that’s why Wisconsin feels he’s the best coach the state has to offer.
Petitgoue was selected by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association as the state’s recipient of the 2019-20 National Federation of High Schools Coaches Association Boys Basketball Coach of the Year last week.
The Badger State’s all-time winningest boys basketball coach with 963 career victories, Petitgoue becomes one of 1,000 recipients of the NFHS award nationwide. He will be considered for sectional recognition and has the potential to be honored as the organizations national coach of the year.
The NFHS will recognize 168 sectional coaches and 21 national coaches. Petitgoue’s sectional includes coaches from Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Michigan.
“It’s very nice to win the state honor,” Petitgoue said on Saturday. “I’ve never won that before. I’m very humbled by it. Right now, I’m just hoping we can have a season.”
There aren’t any “sure things” when it comes to the state tournament, but last year’s Cubans had the posture of a champion. Cuba City boasted a lineup of senior guards Brady Olson and Jackson Noll, a solid post presence in Jack Misky and a steady wing man in Riley Richards. They also received a huge boost with the addition of junior Brayden Dailey — a transfer student from Mineral Point who just recently committed to play NCAA Division I at UW-Green Bay.
That made for a storybook season. The Cubans went unblemished out of the Southwest Wisconsin Activities League, regarded by many as the toughest D-4 conference the state has to offer.
It’s been an unusual offseason for Petitgoue, who’s stayed committed to following all of the social distancing measures amid the ongoing pandemic.
But just like any year, Petitgoue has stayed committed to the team he runs, too. Despite turning 80 this year and amid all the uncertainty about what’s to come this winter season, Petitgoue still plans to man the Cubans’ sidelines as he has for more than 50 seasons.
“I realize that I will be exposed. But at the same time, you have to live your life and I’m willing to take that chance,” said Petitgoue. “I worry more about the kids than I do about myself to be honest with you. I just think that if you prepare, good lord willing everything will turn out alright.”