BIG HORN – The Lingle-Fort Laramie boys’ basketball team may have only one of its games, but first-year coach Chris Cook said the team took a step forward at the 2A East Smackdown Tournament held at Big Horn and Tongue River high schools.
In the two of the three losses, the Doggers only came five points short from two more wins. The only exception was the Saturday morning game against now WyoPreps.com No. 1-ranked Tongue River.
“We just wanted to go compete and show we could compete,” Cook said.
The LFL coach feels like they were able to accomplish that.
“We were just three baskets away from being 3-1,” Cook said. “The one game got away from us, but the other ones, we did just fine.”
On Friday, Lingle fell to Wright 62-59 and to Big Horn 54-52.
“The first game, it look like we hadn’t played at all,” Cook said. “It was a product of Christmas break, and we were sluggish to begin with.”
The Doggers were able to overcome the slow start to take a 37-26 lead at half before the Panthers stormed back in the third quarter, outscoring LFL 21-8 to take a 47-45 lead.
“Wright is a good team, and they executed one more play than we did down the stretch,” Cook said.
Freshman Brady Cook led the team with a double-double, including 20 points and 10 rebounds. Junior Aidan Mattheus added 11 points and nine boards. Senior Brian McCoid, freshman Anthony Arnusch and sophomore Brody Roberts had six points each.
During Friday’s night cap, Lingle and Big Horn met for the second time this season.
The first meeting resulted in a 12-point loss on a neutral court, but in the second meeting, the Doggers came up two-points short in a 54-52 loss the Rams.
“We made a lot of progress from when we played them before Christmas,” Cook said. “We handled their big guy a lot better. He had 11 points in the first quarter, and we made some adjustments.”
LFL held him to four points the rest of the game.
“The boys played well,” Cook said. “Even (Big Horn’s) coach said he was impressed how much the boys had improved already.”
Roberts and Cook paced the team with 14 points apiece, while Cook also grabbed eight rebounds.
The next day, the Doggers fell behind early and couldn’t make up any ground on Tongue River in a 59-27 loss to the Eagles.
McCoid and Cook tallied eight points each to lead the Doggers, while Cook and Roberts led the team in rebound with 10 and 11, respectively.
In the final game of the weekend, LFL pulled away quickly from the Sundance Bulldogs in a 66-28 victory.
Lingle led 20-7 at half and 38-14 at half. In fact, the Doggers gave up no more than seven points in any quarter to the Bulldogs.
Cook led the team with 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Arnusch added 10 points and three assists. Eleven of the 12 players who saw the floor for the Doggers, scored at least one point in the win.
“I wasn’t hung up in the wins and losses. I’m proud of the way the boys competed well, and they showed they could play at that level,” Cook said. “Playing better competition shows what we can work on and help us.”
The Doggers (6-4) begins 2A Southeast Quadrant play Friday at Lusk against the Niobrara County Tigers (1-7). Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
“It’s all about these next six quadrant games that will affect us for seeding with Pine, Burns and Lusk,” Cook said. “(Monday) was one of the best and most focused practices we’ve had all year. We all realize now is crunch time. The rest of this has been a preseason and feeling out where everyone is. Now is go time.”