CASPER – The Lingle-Fort Laramie boys’ basketball team finished the season with a 1-2 trip to the Class 1A State Tournament in Casper over the weekend.
On Thursday, the No. 2-seeded Doggers fell 40-35 in double overtime to eventual state champion, Farson-Eden.
The Pronghorns grabbed an 8-4 lead after eight minutes in an extremely slow-paced matchup.
The Doggers knocked down only three field goals in the first half – two by senior Caeden Riley and the other by senior Bailey Powell.
The slow pace continued into the third quarter despite the Pronghorns taking a 17-9 lead early in the quarter.
The Doggers slowly chipped away at the deficit, and with 6:07 left in regulation, Powell converted an old-fashioned 3-point play to tie the game at 24.
Three minutes later, Riley put L-FL in front for the first time in the game, a lead the Doggers held until Farson-Eden drained a trey with a minute and a half remaining, ultimately forcing overtime tied at 31.
Dogger coach Steve Zimmerman said over the course of the game, the team ran four different defenses and a half-court trap.
In overtime, Lingle-Fort Laramie won the tip and missed their only shot of the first overtime period.
The Doggers never saw the ball again in the extra stanza as Farson-Eden held the ball for the remaining 3:34.
“I thought the Farson delay was a benefit to us. We were in foul trouble. We had no substitutes to turn to. It allowed us to catch our breaths and continue,” Zimmerman said. “How we handled that situation was dictated by the talent we had and what we knew we could do as a team.”
It wasn’t until the first possession of the second overtime when the Pronghorns broke the 31-31 tied and never trailed again for the remainder of the game.
Zimmerman said if he could go back and do it again, he wouldn’t change a thing.
“If I had to do it over the next 100 times, I would do it the same way again,” he said.
Riley led the Doggers with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Powell added nine points.
The next day, L-FL kept its season alive with a 50-41 win over the Hanna-Elk Mountain Miners.
The Doggers overcame a 26-22 halftime deficit for the nine-point victory.
Lingle-Fort Laramie turned up the pressure in the second half, outscoring H-EM 28-15 in the second half.
“It turned into a real physical game. I thought our post players absolutely dominated their post players,” Zimmerman said. “We manhandled them. We ran our half-court trap and caused a lot of turnovers. We bumped the lead up and kept it there.”
The Doggers shot 47% in the second half while limiting the Miners to only 20% from the floor.
Riley tallied a double-double with 20 points and 18 rebounds, while junior Cordell Forkner added 14 points.
The win advanced the Doggers to the fifth-place game against the Kaycee Buckaroos – a team which L-FL has beaten twice this season.
The third time was the charm for Kaycee.
The Buckaroos scored the first five points en route to a 42-29 win.
“The score was not indicative of our team,” Zimmerman said.
It took nearly four minutes before the Doggers put their first points on the scoreboard.
Powell gave L-FL a brief 6-5 lead late in the opening quarter, but as the game rolled into the second quarter, Kaycee held a 9-8 lead.
The Buckaroos never trailed for the remainder of the game.
By halftime, Kaycee’s lead was seven and nine by the end of the third quarter, pushing it to as many as 17 in the final eight minutes of the season.
Caeden Riley led the team with 13 points, while Powell and Forkner added six points.
The Doggers closed out the season with an 18-9 record.
“There aren’t many years where Lingle has won this many games,” Zimmerman said. “That is a great group of guys that I’m going to be hard-pressed to find another group like that. As far as young men, you couldn’t ask for a better group.”