LINGLE – After opening the 2020-21 season with four consecutive losses, the Lingle-Fort Laramie High School boys’ basketball team finally got into the win column to begin the 2021 portion of the schedule with victories over Crawford (Neb.) and Guernsey-Sunrise.
Those two wins have help the Doggers get back into the 1A East Regional conversation. That was a challenge L-FL coach Steve Zimmerman threw to his players this weekend.
“We have to score more points compared to the other 1A teams,” Zimmerman said. “Last night and tonight really helped us get back into the hunt. Before Christmas, we didn’t get any points. Now, the pack is all bunched up.”
On Friday evening, the Doggers tallied a 48-16 road win over the Crawford Rams to notch their first win of the season.
L-FL raced out to a 15-2 first quarter lead and never looked back.
The Doggers added 14 points in the second quarter and 11 more in the third. Meanwhile, during those two quarter, L-FL held Crawford to only three points in each quarter, leading 40-8 heading into the final quarter.
In the fourth, each team scored eight points.
Seniors Cordell Forkner and Hunter Hattan and freshman Nolan Spears led the Doggers with eight points each, while sophomore Corey Duchneaux and senior Cooper Hill added seven apiece. Forkner also led the team with seven rebounds, while Spears grabbed six. Senior Ty Prall tallied seven steals.
The next night, the Doggers kept right on rolling at home with a 65-40 win over the Guernsey-Sunrise Vikings.
“I thought both nights, we did a lot of things I was impressed with. Last night, our defense was phenomenal. Tonight, our fast break got to rolling,” Zimmerman said. “We are a full team again. We went through those first couple weeks pretty fractured. We are a guard orientated, get up and down the floor type of team, where last few years, we’ve been slow and beat up on people. The kids play well together. There are no jealousies, no I in them.”
Another quick start saw L-FL grab an early 12-3 lead, including score the first eight points of the game.
Trio of 3-pointers – two by Forkner and one by Hattan – pushed the Dogger lead to 21-7 by the end of the first.
Lingle’s hot shooting from beyond the 3-point line continued into the second with two more triples from Forkner and one by sophomore Kyle Gutierrez.
In the same stretch, the Dogger defense limited Guernsey to only two points.
In the third quarter, L-FL dropped 21 more points on the Vikings, extending their lead to 53-25 heading to the final quarter.
Three Doggers scored in double figures. Forkner led the way with 17, while Hattan added 15. Prall tossed in 13. Spears grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds, while Forkner had eight.
Saturday’s game also marked Senior Night for five Doggers.
“Cordell and Cooper have been, at various times, starters over the four years,” Zimmerman said. “They have been asked to do the most changing. They both played guards all three years. We’ve asked Cordell to play in the post this year. We’ve asked Cooper to run the offenses a little bit different. Both have accepted it and are working hard.
“Hunter was our sixth man last year. He worked real hard this summer on his shot. The surprising part with Hunter is his defense. The fourth senior is a young man who is in his first year with us – Ty Prall. The kid is an athlete. He can shoot the ball. Eddie (Ramos) has been with us each year. Tonight, he had some chances to score and the fans were going nuts. When he is smiling, it makes your day.”
The Doggers (2-4) travel to Lusk on Friday to face Niobrara County (3-3) at 7 p.m.
“We are now getting into the 2A SEWAC part of our schedule,” Zimmerman said. “Our conference champ might have three or four losses. It’s going to be wide open.”