MCDONALD'S SWNEWS4U.COM CO-GAME OF THE WEEK (Jan. 24–31)
BOYS BASKETBALL: #3 Cuba City 91, Milwaukee Carmen Northwest 69
By Tom Gunnell, Republican Journal/Tri-Country Press
CUBA CITY — Jerry Petitgoue has held the honor of being Wisconsin’s winningest basketball coach for the past 23 years. In the gymnasium named for him this past Saturday, the Cuba City Hall of Fame boys’ basketball coach reached another career milestone that has not been reached by any other coach in state history when he earned his 1,000th victory after guiding his Cubans over Milwaukee Carmen Northwest, 91–69, in a non-conference game.
“I never planned for this. Nobody stays around for 51 years. God almighty, no. I’ve been very blessed. I thank the good Lord every day,” said Petitgoue following Saturday’s game. “It was nice to get it done at home. With all the former players coming back and my family all being here, it was a special moment.”
Petitgoue, 81, is the first in state history to reach the 1,000-victory plateau and is believed to be just the 18th boys’ basketball coach nationally to ever reach the mark. Robert Hughes of Fort Worth Dunbar (Tex.) is the all-time leader with 1,333 wins from 1959–2005 while Morgan Wootten of DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.)– the first and only high school basketball coach elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, is second with 1,274 wins.
In 55 seasons coaching in Wisconsin — four at the now-defunct Gratiot High School (1963–67) and 51 at Cuba City (1971–present) — Petitgoue has amassed an overall record of 1,000—261 winning nearly 80 percent of the games he has coached during his long and successful tenure.
His overall win total doesn’t even include the 51 wins he record in the four seasons he spent coaching sub-varsity level boys’ basketball in Illinois at Lena-Winlsow (1967—68) and his alma mater Galena High School (1968—71).
No other boys’ basketball coach in state history has even coached 1,000 game let alone won nearly that many. Winneconne/Delavan’s Ralph Larson finished his career with 984 games coached at the varsity boys’ level in Wisconsin.
Racine St. Catherine’s Bob Letsch, who is second on the boys’ all-time victory list with his 661 wins, is 339 behind Petitgoue, while Blair-Taylor’s Randy Storlie, the next active leading boys’ coach in the state with 615 wins, sits 385 wins behind the Cubans’ legend.
Among girls’ coaches in the state annuals, Owen-Withee’s Al Guthman leads the way with 710 victories and 1,012 games coached before his retirement last season. The top active coach, in terms of wins, is Middleton’s Jeff Kind at 632—284, who also coached several successful seasons at Cuba City earlier in his career.
With Saturday’s win, the Division 4 #3-ranked Cubans currently sit at 16–1 overall on the season and are in first-place in the SWAL at 7–1.
Their coach feels that they can now put the distraction of his 1,000th victory behind them and focus on finishing out a conference championship season and a long tournament run.
What happens after this season is anyone’s guess, however it doesn’t appear that Petitgoue has any thoughts of stepping away just yet.
“I’ve got to go one of these days, but the Cuba City program will live on. They’ll be fine. They’ll get someone in who is young and enthusiastic,” said Petitgoe.
Until then, the Cubans will have to put up with someone who is older and enthusiastic.
NOTE: For more coverage of Coach Pettigoue's 1,000th win and his coaching history, pick up a copy of this week's Tri-County Press at the news stands.