LINGLE – After rolling to a pair of 30-point victories to open the Dogger Classic, the Lingle-Fort Laramie boys basketball team found itself in a battle with defending Class 1A State Champion, Kaycee Saturday evening.
In the opening round, the Doggers jumped out to a 10-3 advantage over the Hulett Red Devils, cruising to a 70-33 win.
“Hulett is one of the better teams in the North. It was Upton, Kaycee and Hulett are the top three teams and we took down two of them,” L-FL coach Steve Zimmerman said. “We are excited and have a lot to build on.”
L-FL’s lead reached double-digits early in the second quarter courtesy of a 3-pointer from junior Caden Riley.
The Doggers lead only grew from there, reaching as many as 37 in the closing moments of the contest.
Riley led all scorers with 27 points, while senior Ty Mueller added 12 and Junior Bailey Powell 10.
The next day, L-FL was at it early with a 10:30 p.m. tip against the Midwest Oilers.
“We played kind of sluggish,” Zimmerman said. “We had some turnovers.”
Despite that, the Doggers once again rolled to a 72-34 victory.
Midwest cut into the L-FL lead on two occasions, trimming the deficit to 13 points, but the Dogger full-court press proved too much as the home team managed to balloon the lead back to 20 quickly.
“We controlled the game from the first tip,” Zimmerman said of his team’s 19-3 first-quarter lead.
Riley led the team with 19, while Powell added 10. All 12 Doggers who saw the floor in the victory scored at least two points.
In the final game of the tournament, both L-FL and Kaycee came out firing, setting a furious pace, combining to score 35 first-quarter points. It was the Doggers who capped off the tournament with a 64-59 win.
With the Doggers holding to a 1-point lead after eight minutes, they managed to push their lead to five by the break.
In the third quarter, another 3-pointer by Riley gave the home team a 38-27 lead, but L-FL knew Kaycee wasn’t going to go away.
“They are the defending state champs,” Zimmerman said. “You knew they were going to make a run at us. I was just hoping we had enough to hold them off.”
Six minutes later, the Doggers found themselves up only one heading to the fourth quarter.
With three minutes to go in the game, Kaycee went on a 5-0 spurt to grab its first lead of the game at 57-55, but L-FL senior Ty Mueller scored the next five points to put his team back on top for good.
“I thought that last minute, those kids focused and did the things they needed to do,” Zimmerman said. “They ran the offenses that we were supposed to. We got a couple key rebounds. It was a good team.”
Riley scored 39 points, while Mueller had 17.
The Doggers enter Christmas break with a 4-2 record and will open 2019 on the road in Crawford, Neb. on Friday, Jan. 4. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:45 p.m.
“It’s one of those quality wins,” Zimmerman said. “I think more than anything, it’s a confidence builder. I see that confidence growing and growing.”