CUBA CITY – Hall of Fame Cuba City High School boys’ basketball coach Jerry Petitgoue has been selected as the recipient of the 2019-20 National Federation of State High School (NFHS) Coaches Association Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year Award for Wisconsin.
“It’s humbling. I’m very proud to receive this recognition for Cuba City High School and the community,” said Petitgoue. “I’m happy it comes during these trying times. Every little positive thing is uplifting these days.”
Annually, the NFHS identifies and recognizes a coach from each state for significant achievements in their sport. State level recipients are considered for NFHS Sectional recognition. National Coaches of the Year are then chosen from the sectional winners.
Award recipients are selected based upon a variety of criteria, including their coaching record, background, coaching honors and involvement in their community and school organizations.
Petitgoue said that in his 53-year coaching career it’s the first time he has been recognized as Wisconsin’s NFHS Coach of the Year.
After battling their way through a very challenging non-conference schedule and the gauntlet that was the SWAL, the Cubans– who have been ranked #1 in Division 4 since the second week of the season– had high hopes of hoisting up a gold ball at the Kohl Center in March. However, they never got the chance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Petitgoue’s squad posted an unblemished 25-0 record during the 2019-20 season, but the Cubans were unable to finish out their season. Just hours after defeating SWAL rival Darlington, 55-48, in a hard-fought WIAA D4 sectional semifinal clash at Mineral Point on March 12, the WIAA called off the remainder of the tournament.
Junior forward Brayden Dailey posted his 13th double-double of the season with a 20-point and 16-rebound performance to guide the unbeaten Cubans (25-0 overall) to their first sectional final appearance since 2014.
The Cubans averaged over 81 points per game on offense while allowing just over 55 points per game on defense this season behind the All-State trio of senior guards Brady Olson (first-team) and Jackson Noll (honorable mention) and Dailey (first-team).
Add in junior Jack Misky, a first-team All-SWAL selection along with those aforementioned teammates, and the Cubans were poised for big things heading into the Baraboo sectional finale against Markesan.
Instead, the Cubans finish up as one of the Elite Eight in D4 along with the Hornets (20-5), #2 Stratford (24-0) #3 Milwaukee Academy of Science (20-3), #4 Iola-Scandinavia (24-1), #7 Roncalli (21-4), Unity (22-3) and Luther (15-11).
Petitgoue told his players to be proud of the conference and regional championships they won, the 25-0 record they posted, and for making the way through much of the season ranked #1 in D4.
“This was a special team having a magical season. I never had a perfect season in 53 years coaching varsity basketball until this year,” admitted Petitgoue, noting that this year’s team joins his 1969 sophomore team at Galena as the only unbeaten teams in his career. “This will go down as a perfect season, but it wasn’t perfect because they didn’t get the chance to finish it off.”
The coach cited the backing this team got from the fans, the community, the administration and the student body at Cuba City as a big reason this season was so special.
“I’ve been to state before. I’ve experienced the state tournament and winning it all, but these kids have not,” said Petitgoue, who has amassed 963 varsity victories during his 53-year coaching career and has guided the Cubans to three state championship titles and one runner-up finish in eight state tournament appearances. “That was hard for them. They had their hearts set on something and they didn’t get the opportunity to go for it.
Petitgoue remains the winningest prep basketball coach in the state of Wisconsin with a 963-256 (.790) career record in 53 seasons. He has posted a record of 901-236 (.793) in 49 seasons at Cuba City after starting his varsity coaching career at now-defunct Gratiot High School.
Despite the disappointment of the abrupt ending to this season, Coach Petitgoue feels his Cubans will be right in the thick of another tight race in the SWAL with three starters from an undefeated team returning along with a junior varsity team that went 20-2.
“It bodes well for the future of Cuba City basketball,” remarked Petitgoue.
Each year approximately 1,000 coaches are recognized at the state level, 168 coaches are recognized at the sectional level and 21 coaches are recognized at the national level.
Wisconsin coaches are members of Section 4, which represents the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa. Michigan and Wisconsin.
The mission of the NFHS Coaches Association is to enhance the professional development of all high school sports coaches in order to improve interscholastic athletics in America.