Doggers’ season comes to a close at regionals

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BURNS – An exciting and successful season for the Lingle-Fort Laramie (LFL) Doggers unfortunately came to an early end at the 2A East Regional Tournament in Burns on February 22-24 with two heartbreaking losses to Sundance and Niobrara County High School (NCHS).

On Thursday, LFL came up short by a single possession in matching Sundance in scoring, with the Bulldogs prevailing, 44-41, at the end of regulation.

In the consolation game, both the Doggers and NCHS battled tooth and nail to remain in the tournament and secure a state berth, with NCHS posting the win by a single point, 42-41.

“We knew going in (to regionals) that we would have to play pretty well to make it out of Burns,” coach Chris Cook said. “The Doggers’ effort was good, but we really struggled shooting the ball and were way off of our normal averages for the season. The boys continued to fight and claw back into both games, but we were just unable to take the lead late in the game.”

Sundance

Sundance controlled the scoreboard in the first half by several possessions to establish a 26-18 lead at halftime. Rallying in a physical third quarter, LFL outscored Sundance, 7-6. The Doggers won the fourth quarter, 16-12, although not by enough points to close the gap.

Sophomore Brady Cook led LFL in scoring against Sundance with 20 points. Cook went double-double with 14 rebounds and also posted six blocks.

Junior Brody Roberts netted nine points, sophomore Anthony Arnusch eight and junior Elijah Hatch four.

“We got off to a quick start like we hoped (against Sundance) at 4-0 and 6-2,” coach Cook said. “However, Sundance made a couple shots to get right back and it was a fight for the rest of the game. We had a chance to take the lead late, but a not-so-fortunate call gave the ball back to Sundance and we never scored again. Brady Cook shot the ball very well again inside the arc and finished 9-11 and 9-13 overall.”

NCHS

A back-and-forth battle for the lead ensued in the first half. NCHS found itself ahead by one possession, 20-18, late in the second quarter. Roberts scored on a fastbreak and tied the game, 20-20, as the halftime buzzer sounded.

NCHS edged up by a single possession, 31-28, as the third quarter came to an end. The dogfight continued in a neck-and-neck fourth quarter with NCHS remaining up by a single point.

Cook went double-double against NCHS with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Roberts netted 11 points and pulled down five rebounds. Hatch and junior Skyler Thomas contributed six points apiece, with Hatch pulling down five rebounds. Arnusch delivered five assists and Cook made five blocks.

“The stats were all very close for both teams,” coach Cook said. “However, (NCHS) was able to get to the foul line more than we did and ultimately just had more opportunities to score there.”

Coach Cook expressed pride in the Dogger’s exceptional regular season. LFL went undefeated at home and finished the regular season with an 18-4 overall record and a 4-2 conference record, highlighted by a 12-game winning streak in December and January.

“It was a good season,” Cook said. “They played really good basketball, especially at home. We are going to have to figure out how to do that more consistently away from the Dogger Dome. We appreciate the community support this long winter season. We also wish our two seniors – Nolan Spears and Leo Belli – the best of luck and are thankful for the contributions to Dogger basketball.”