Although the color of the ball the Cuba City boys brought home isn't the gold they had set their sights on in November, the team has nothing to hang their head about.
The 2011-2012 Cuba City boys team solidified themselves as the elite of the elite setting school history with a school best 27-1 finish and also making WIAA history in the state semi-final when they defeated Oshkosh Lourdes 72-27. That margin of defeat was the most of any state tournament game at any division and surpassed the 41-point defeat of Maple Northwestern by Seymour in 2005.
The final score of the Division 4 game was not the score the players and so many fans were used to all year. With large margins of defeat this season and their suffocating 1-3-1 defense, the Cubans were, for the first time this season, on the other end of the spectrum.
Cory Vaassen, the Cubans unanimous SWAL Player of the Year selection, said in the press conference following the 43-61 loss to Whitefish Bay Dominican the shots just weren't in the Cubans favor that day. "Some nights you have those games where the ball doesn't go in the hoop and that's part of the game of basketball," Vaassen said. "Shots just weren't falling."
The Cubans found themselves in a hole early down 0-9 after Dominican hit three, three point shots. Cuba City head coach, Jerry Petitgoue said they (Dominican) shot the ball well. "A 9-0 hole and I didn't want that kind of a start," Petitgoue said. "Defensively, you know, they had 11 turnovers in the first half and we had 10 more shots than they did and we are down by 10. That's really a good basketball team, a very, very good basketball team. The Wilson kid and the Taylor kid, whoa. That's a talented basketball team.
I couldn't be disappointed in my kids."
The Cubans tried to stretch out the 1-3-1 in the second half along with Cory Vaassen on Wilson, which allowed more gaps for the Cuban defense. The gaps then allowed Dominican to penetrate the lane for some lay ups. "I was not displeased with the defense," Petitgoue said. "They were hitting shots."
The Cubans fought hard to pull back within range of Dominican and cut the lead to one in the first quarter on a Nate Murray three-pointer with just over one minute to play, however, Dominican answered with a three pointer to extend their lead to 12-8 before Trent Denlinger made one of two free-throws to cut the score to 9-12 at the end of the first.
In the second quarter, the Cubans tried to keep within reach of Dominican using Jason Derby off the bench for back to back three pointers to narrow the margin to just nine points before going on a 7-5 scoring spree to cut Dominicans lead to just seven. The Cubans went to the locker room at the half down by 10, but a wild third quarter led to devastation for the Cubans who found themselves down by as much as 26 points with 1:35 to play in the third quarter.
Petitgoue said he tried to tell his kids to relax and just go play their game, but the opposition was too strong. "We would normally get the ball in the pain low to Trent (Denlinger) and he would muscle it in," Petitgoue said. "Today that wasn't quite the case and the kid was there and he pushed a couple of them back."
In the final quarter the Cubans cut Dominican's lead to 16, however the deficit was just too large of a margin for the Cubans to overcome. "Last year they (Domincan) were in (Division) three and I was hoping against hope for them to be in three and when the divisions came out they were in four," Petitgoue said. "Today we got beat by a better team. Basketball is a game of runs and we made a few runs here and there."
Cuba City was led by Denlinger and Vaassen each with 10 points. Jason Derby added nine points all on three-pointers. The Cubans shot just 28 percent from the field and were 50 percent from three-point land. Dominican outrebounded the Cubans by three boards however the biggest difference was in fast break points. Dominican had 14 points off fast breaks while the Cubans had just two points.
Just two days earlier, the Cubans showcased their talent and 1-3-1 defense in the 72-27 stomping of Oshkosh Lourdes in the Division 4 state semi-final game. Cuba City roared out to a 22-8 first quarter lead and never blinked the remainder of the game. Cuba City shot 51 percent from the field and 31 percent from three-point land while pulling down 32 rebounds compared to just 19 from Lourdes. Four Cubans scored in double figures with Vaassen and Zach Adams with 13 while Denlinger and Nate Murray added 12 each.
The Cubans will have big shoes to fill next year with the loss of six seniors to graduation. Trent Denlinger, Cory Vaassen, Nate Murray, Zach Adams, Alex Murphy and Joshua White participated in their final game at the Kohl Center in Madison on Saturday.