CASPER – The Lingle-Fort Laramie Doggers wrapped up the 2018-19 season with a pair of losses at the Class 1A State Basketball Tournament in Casper over the weekend.
Despite that, the team felt like it pulled off what many outside of Lingle weren’t expecting – a trip to the state tournament.
“We need to give a lot of praise and credit to those boys,” L-FL coach Steve Zimmerman said. “They went 14-12. There weren’t many people expecting that. It was quite an achievement.”
The Doggers headed into state as the No. 4 seed from the East and drew No. 1 seed Farson-Eden in the opening round – a game the team knew would be difficult.
“They have one very, very good kid by the name of (Lain) Mitchelson,” Zimmerman said. “They have a tremendous supporting cast around him. They are fast. They are strong. They are big.”
The Doggers held Mitchelson, Class 1A’s top scorer, to 11 points in a 48-28 loss to Farson-Eden.
L-FL found itself in foul trouble early, including three called against junior Caeden Riley.
Even with Riley on the bench much of the first half, the Doggers found themselves down 24-16 at the break.
L-FL continued to stay with them into the third quarter, but over the final eight minutes, Farson-Eden started to pull away.
“They didn’t blow us out,” Zimmerman said. “It was a matter of them slowly pulling away.”
Senior Ty Mueller led all scorers with 12 points, while sophomore Cordell Forkner added eight.
The next day, the Doggers played a familiar opponent in the Kaycee Buckaroos.
“Both teams know each other so well, we dumped our basic offenses and went to a lot more motion and freelance,” Zimmerman said. “We let them create on their own.”
Kaycee raced out to a 15-2 lead in the first six minutes of the game, but that’s when the Doggers started chipping away at the deficit.
By the midway point in the second quarter, senior Scott Gilchriest connected on a 3-pointer – his only points of the day – to draw the Doggers back within two.
L-FL hit another lull in the third quarter, allowing Kaycee to pull away once again.
A timeout midway through the quarter allowed the Doggers to settle down and make one more run at the Buckaroos.
With six minutes left in the season, Riley drained a trey of his own to cut the deficit back within single digits at 48-41, but that proved as close a L-FL would come to seeing the lead the remainder of the game.
Mueller led the Doggers with 13 points, while Riley added 10. Sophomore Cooper Hill tossed in nine.
“Even though it ended without bringing some sort of hardware home, it was a good year,” Zimmerman said. “Everyone felt positive. It was not a somber locker room. There was a lot of appreciation for each other. There was a lot of good feelings about what we were able to accomplish this season.”
The Doggers closed out their season with a 14-12 record, and the team is already looking towards this summer, improving, and taking that next step.
“It’s going to be fun and exciting to watch how that all comes along and who will step up and help this team move further next season,” Zimmerman said.