LINGLE – The extremely short-handed Lingle-Fort Laramie High School boys’ basketball team suffered a pair of setbacks to open the season at the annual Burns Winter Classic.
On Friday, the Doggers fell to Class 2A Moorcroft 61-21, and on Saturday, L-FL dropped its home opener 59-19 to defending Class 1A state champion Saratoga.
Due to injuries and sickness, the Doggers were without three starters both days, creating opportunities for the underclassmen to get valuable varsity experience.
“The thing I was most impressed with was our kids played hard and never hung their heads,” Head Coach Steve Zimmerman said. “In both games, I saw areas where the concept of what we are trying to do was starting to be understood. Most of our team was freshmen and sophomores who have never been on the varsity floor before. Overall, I thought they held it together.”
On Friday, Moorcroft jumped out to a 15-4 first-quarter lead and never looked back.
The Wolves limited the Doggers to only 10 points through three quarters. During that same time frame, Moorcroft poured on 41 points.
Over the final eight minutes, L-FL outscored the Wolves, 11-10.
Senior Ty Prall led the Doggers with 11 points and five rebounds, while sophomore Kyle Gutierrez added four points. Junior Noah Hatch and senior Hunter Hattan had three each.
The next day, the Saratoga Panthers jumped out to a 14-1 lead, spanning into the second quarter.
In the early seconds of the quarter, Hattan knocked down what proved to be the only field goal of the first half for the Doggers as the other two points came from the free-throw line.
Saratoga continued to expand its lead throughout the remainder of the game.
In the third quarter, Prall scored all six of the Dogger points, but with eight minutes remaining in the game, Saratoga led 41-11.
Over the final quarter, Hattan added an additional field goal, while Prall and Gutierrez combined for three free throws.
Prall led the team with 11 points and four rebounds, while Hattan added five.
“Obviously, our physical maturity and skill level was not what you would typically find at the varsity level, but as far as their hearts and trying, I thought they did just fine,” Zimmerman said. “We gained valuable learning experience, and it will pay off long term down the road. They saw what needs to happen and what they need to improve on as they get older.”
L-FL is back in action Friday at home Friday for the Dogger Classic.
The Doggers will face Encampment at 11:30 a.m. Friday and Kaycee at 4 p.m.
“We have the opportunity to play with both teams. Encampment is not as big as a Moorcroft and Saratoga, but they are quick,” Zimmerman said. “Kaycee has some decent size, but their depth is very limited. We anticipate stealing one this weekend.”