It’s the Must-Win Game of the Season for Laramie Basketball
It might a slightly different format, but it’s back to the past at the regional tournament. It’s a one-game season for Laramie High School basketball.
Simply put, both Laramie teams must be Cheyenne East on Thursday to advance to next week’s state tournament or their season is over.
The Laramie girls play second-ranked Cheyenne East at 3 p.m. from Storey Gym.
The Plainsmen face the third-ranked Thunderbirds from the Cheyenne Central High School Fieldhouse at 4:30 p.m.
Due to the games being at different sites, KOWB will be broadcasting just the boys’ game on Thursday.
Laramie Lady Plainsmen
The Laramie girls will try to accomplish something they haven’t done since 2017, make the 4A state basketball tournament.
Laramie (7-11) will play the No. 2 Lady Thunderbirds (14-2) for the third time this season. The Lady Plainsmen dropped both regular-season meetings, 58-51 in Laramie, and 61-44, last Thursday in Cheyenne.
Now, it’s back to the same venue.
Head coach Nick Darling said their preparation has been simple.
“We’ve worked on press break and not throwing them the ball. That’s pretty much it. If we can control our turnovers, I think we’ve got a pretty good chance. If we can rebound also, I think that’s something we’ve been keying on, big time.”
Darling doesn’t mind the match-up. He said it will boil down to controlling what we can control.
In the two losses, LHS has a combined 55 turnovers.
He added, “We’re just working on our familiarity with our sets. Kind of an understanding to be patient. We don’t have to hit the first roll a pick-and-roll. We’ve got a ton of other options. In our half-court stuff, we just need to be patient. Press break, we also have to be a little more patient. I think we’re just chucking it (the ball) sometimes, and it’s kind of crazy because that’s not how we practice.”
With a one-game scenario, it can carry extra pressure. Darling believes his squad can handle it.
“I think we’re a pretty relaxed team, to begin with. Like, I have a pretty chill demeanor, and in practices, I don’t really yell too much at the girls, and so I think we’re pretty relaxed.”
He mentioned he’s been using some motivational items with the team this week to prepare them.
“When you’re in the moment, it’s something where instead of being on your heels, you’ve just got to trust yourself, trust your teammates, and go at it. I’m positive and happy with what I’ve been seeing, and I’m feeling pretty good about tomorrow (Thursday),” said Darling.
Tip-off is at 3 p.m. The winner qualifies for the state tournament and will face the winner of the Cheyenne South-Cheyenne Central game for the regional quad title at 7:30 p.m.
The Plainsmen are trying to get back to the state tournament for the first time since 2016. They’ll have to knock off one of the top teams to accomplish that goal.
Laramie (11-7) will play No. 3 Cheyenne East (15-2) also for the third time this year. The Thunderbirds beat LHS 73-62 in Laramie two weeks ago, and then 75-58 in Cheyenne last week. This meeting will take place on a neutral court.
Laramie head coach Jim Shaffer said it’s about executing our game-plan.
“We’ve put in some wrinkles defensively, and hopefully, we can do a better job of guarding Jake Rayl and Graedyn Buell. In two games, they’ve been around 140 points, somewhere in that neighborhood, and those two guys are like 110 of them, almost, so hopefully, we do a better job of defending those two guys.”
Shaffer believes for his squad to have success on offense, it comes down to taking care of the ball.
“We’ve got to make sure we get an opportunity to score every trip and get a chance to shoot the basketball. We’re up six in the first half last week, and we’re still up two at half, and we came out in the third quarter and just threw them the basketball for lay-ups that we couldn’t defend.”
He knows it’s about preventing their (East’s) transition game, and staying away from any bad offense.
Shaffer added, “We have to find some ways to get Jaedyn Brown some shots, cause they’re gonna face-guard him and try to take him away, and (we need to) try to do some things to get him some looks (at the basket).”
Shaffer has experience with this one-game scenario. He understands what’s at stake.
“We’ve been talking about it all year that, you know, it was going to be a one-game deal, and we thought it was gonna be East (as our opponent). Since day one, we’ve kind of led into this, and it’s a one-game deal and hopefully, we’re playing our best basketball. Our kids don’t want to be done. They want to come back and practice Friday, and obviously, everybody wants to go to state, so we’ll just have to see how things go.”
The game is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. The winner will take on either Cheyenne Central or Cheyenne South in the regional quad title game at 7:30 p.m.
KOWB will have live coverage of the boys’ game starting at 4 p.m. You can listen on the radio (AM 1290), through the KOWB app, online, and through smart speakers.