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Jordan Laufenberg

Bangor High School boys basketball coach Jordan Laufenberg hoists the WIAA Division 5 state championship trophy after the Cardinals defeated Chippewa Falls McDonell 91-67 at the Kohl Center in March. He will not return to coach the team in 2018-2019.

Jordan Laufenberg insists that the timing is just that and nothing else.

The Bangor High School boys basketball coach has been thinking about leaving his position for some time now, and the Cardinals winning the WIAA Division 5 state championship in March didn’t give Laufenberg a chance he was seeking.

It isn’t about going out on top, but rather walking away for the right reason.

Laufenberg decided that his family was the right reason when he resigned as Bangor’s coach, and he thinks the timing of his decision is also good timing for the elevation of another coach.

Jacob Pederson will coach the Cardinals next season after Laufenberg won 191 games during the last 11.

“My intention was never to wait for the big moment, and then walk away,” Laufenberg said. “It was about timing, and this was the right time for me.

“My son (4½-year-old Maddox) is in sports classes and swim classes, and I missed a lot of things over the winter that I didn’t want to miss.

“I want to be there for those things.”

The Cardinals won 96 games and lost 10 during the last four seasons, and Pederson — the program’s junior varsity coach the last three seasons — is tasked with the job of moving it forward after the departure of 10 seniors from a 27-1 team.

“Yeah, I guess there is some pressure,” Pederson said. “But all we can do is get ready for next year, and we’ll have some new opportunities for some good, young players.

“We’ve had success with our JV and C teams, and we do have some good players coming back from this year.”

One is junior-to-be Grant Manke, who had 37 points and 25 rebounds in state semifinal and championship victories over Green Bay N.E.W. Lutheran and Chippewa Falls McDonell. Manke flourished within his talent and the talent that surrounded him throughout his sophomore season.

“He’ll have to take on a bigger role, but he won’t have to take on everything for us,” Pederson said of the 6-foot-4 forward. “He understands that and knows the kind of players we will also have on the team.”

Trevor Jones and Jaymeson Freit will be two seniors with new roles, and Hank Reader and Zane Langrehr are players who had some chances to contribute as freshmen.

Pederson’s coaching contribution during the Cardinals’ playoff runs the last three seasons are what sold Laufenberg on his ability to be the next coach.

The junior varsity program was one that Laufenberg could leave in Pederson’s hands with minimal guidance. Pederson coached the middle school team for a couple of seasons before moving up to the junior varsity, so he has followed the right path to his new job.

“I was very impressed with what he brought to our staff when the junior varsity season was over, and he could concentrate on the varsity,” Laufenberg said of Pederson, who teaches physical education at the elementary school. “His knowledge of the game is very good, and he really helped us.”

Laufenberg didn’t rule out a return to coaching in the future. He is also reducing his role with the football team from assistant coach to volunteer coach for the same reasons.

“When my son grows up a little, I might want to get back into it,” Laufenberg said. “I still love it, but this is just what I have to do now.”

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Assistant Sports Editor

Todd Sommerfeldt has covered sports for the La Crosse Tribune since 2003 after doing the same previously in the Fox Cities and Rock County.