BURNS – The Lingle-Fort Laramie High School boys’ basketball team opened the annual Burns Winter Classic with a pair of losses on day one, but the Doggers returned the favor with a pair of victories on day two, finishing the weekend with a 2-2 record.
On day one, the Doggers quickly fell behind Little Snake River 12-2 in the opening quarter, but slowly chipped away at the deficit.
Midway through the third quarter, junior Cordell Forkner connected on a 3-pointer to draw the Doggers within two at 27-25. However, the Rattlers kept Lingle at bay for the remainder of the game.
Lingle got as close as one at 41-40 with a minute to play courtesy of a bucket from senior Caeden Riley, but Little Snake River scored the final three points to close out the victory.
“The first one we let slip away from us,” L-FL coach Steve Zimmerman said. “We battled back, but we just didn’t execute at the very end like we needed to. Even though we lost, I felt pretty good about being in the game and seeing that we can compete with the western side.”
Riley led the team with 20 points, while Forkner added seven.
Later that night, Saratoga jumped out to a 17-6 lead and cruised to a 49-29 win over the Doggers.
“Saratoga is one of the elite 1A teams in the state this year,” Zimmerman said. “I was pleased with our transition and our defense slowing down their running game since they live off the fast break, but we did not rebound very well. I thought their athleticism beat us up on the boards.”
During the game, the Doggers suffered a pair of injuries which affected the Doggers depth for the remainder of the tournament.
“In that game, we found some things we really need to work on,” Zimmerman said.
Riley led the team with 11, while Forkner added eight. Junior Hunter Hattan tossed in six.
On Saturday, the short-handed Doggers rebounded with a pair of wins over Class 2A Moorcroft and Class 3A Burns.
Against Moorcroft, the Doggers raced out to a 20-6 lead after one quarter of play en route to a 54-42 win.
“We put in a game plan that was kind of out there, pushing the limits a little bit,” Zimmerman said. “The kids executed it well and came away with the win.”
Moorcroft cut into the lead over the next two quarters, but L-FL outscored the Wolves 15-9 over the final eight minutes to lock up the win.
Three Doggers scored in double figures, led by Rile with 16. Junior Cooper Hill added 14, while senior Bailey Powell had 11.
In the final game of the weekend, the Lingle faced host Burns.
The Broncs held a slim 8-7 lead after the first quarter, but the Doggers outscored Burns 26-10 over the next two quarters to pull away for the win.
“We took the lead early and held it all the way through,” Zimmerman said. “We executed our offense really well and our defense was extremely aggressive. We rebounded well, and I was very, very pleased with what transpired in that game.”
Riley led L-FL with 15 points. Forkner added 14, while Powell and Hill had 8 each.
“In each game, we saw growth in some areas. I saw some stuff that we are further ahead of than we had anticipated. If we get to the point where we get all the varsity guys back, we could be a pretty good team,” Zimmerman said. “It was very encouraging seeing the strides that they were taking over the weekend.”
One of the goals coming into this season was for the Doggers to face some of the toughest competition as they could during the regular. Things won’t get any easier for L-FL as it hosts the Dogger Classic this weekend.
“We saw some pretty good competition down in Burns, and we’ll do the same at ours,” Zimmerman said.
The Doggers (2-2) host the Dogger Classic Friday and Saturday. L-FL will open the weekend against Hulett (2-1) at 4:30 p.m. on Friday before facing Wyopreps.com Class 1A No. 1 Encampment (4-0) at 10:30 a.m. and the No. 5-ranked Kaycee Buckaroos (3-0) at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.