BURNS – The Lingle-Fort Laramie boys’ basketball team opened the season with a loss to the Big Horn Rams, but the Doggers bounced back with two wins to conclude the team’s annual trip to the Burns Winter Classic last Friday and Saturday.
Coming into the season, the Doggers’ team goal is to get better every game, and LFL coach Chris Cook feels like they accomplished the goal at the Winter Classic.
On Friday morning, the Doggers fell to Big Horn 67-51 – the team’s only loss of the weekend.
The Rams jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter, but after that, the teams played pretty even from that point forward.
“The kids didn’t give up and played to the very end against a very talented Big Horn team,” Cook said. “They had physical size you can’t replicate any place.”
Big Horn led 21-8 lead after the first quarter, but Lingle managed to cut the deficit to 10 at halftime.
Sophomore Elijah Hatch and freshman Brady Cook led the team with 10 points each, while junior Aidan Mattheus added nine. Mattheus and junior Nolan Spears grabbed a team-high four rebounds.
LFL shot 44% (19-of-43) from the floor, while Big Horn shot 46% (28-of-61).
The next two games featured a pair of 3A teams.
During Friday’s night cap against Moorcroft, the Doggers used a 10-0 run in the first quarter to take the lead en route to a 65-38 victory over the Wolves.
Trailing 7-3 three minutes into the contest, sophomore Brody Roberts scored his first points of the game, sparking the first quarter run.
“Moorcroft was a scrappy team,” Cook said. “The boys played hard and executed what we wanted to do. They shot the ball real well. We were able to pull away and play the defense that we wanted.”
Cook tied the game at seven, and an old-fashioned 3-point play by Roberts gave the Doggers the lead.
By the end of the opening frame, Lingle led 16-11, and the Dogger lead only grew from there.
“When they start buying in like that, it’s really fun basketball,” Cook said. “Everyone gets more excited and hustling all over the floor and diving on the floor.”
Cook led the team with a double-double including 19 points and 10 rebounds, while senior Brian McCoid and freshman Anthony Arnusch added 11 points each.
As a team, LFL shot a blistering 64% (25-of-39) from the floor, including 74% (20-of-27) from inside the 3-point arc.
On Saturday, in the final game of the weekend, the Dogger defense held the Newcastle Dogies to only seven points in a 53-7 victory despite missing three players due to either sickness or injury.
“It was a next man up mentality,” Cook said. “The boys played some awesome defense. We had better spacing. We were able to watch film on ourselves what we did Friday and make some adjustments for Saturday.”
LFL led 17-2 after one quarter, extending the lead to 32-6 at halftime.
Newcastle’s lone point in the second half came at the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
Over the course of the game, the Doggers took five charges on the defensive side of the floor.
Cook led the team with 12 points, while McCoid added nine points. Mattheus tossed in eight.
The Doggers (2-1) host the LFL Dogger Classic Friday and Saturday. On Friday, Lingle plays Kyacee at 11:30 a.m. and Hulett at 4 p.m. The next day, the Doggers play Encampment at 10:30 a.m. and Rock River at 3 p.m.
“The boys are excited about that,” Cook said. “You get four games in your home gym. Hopefully, we can get a good group to come out and watch the boys. We’ve got some quality teams coming in that we’ve played for a quite a while. Hopefully, we can build off what we did last weekend. Our goal is to get better every game regardless.”