The new high school basketball season has the Laramie Plainsmen mixing old with new.

Laramie had some roster turnover in the off-season. At the end of the 2021 season, seven players were anticipated to return for the 2022 season. After two players moved away and another opted not to play, the Plainsmen are down to four players with varsity experience.

Out of the 14 players on the varsity/junior varsity roster for head coach Jim Shaffer, half of them are underclassmen.

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Despite that mix of youth and veterans, coach Shaffer has been pleased with how their practices have gone early on.

“It’s been the best group we’ve had in three years, in terms of, kids working hard, being coachable, and having high energy in the gym, and all the things you need to have to be successful. That piece of it has been really good with this group.”

Shaffer says how they play hasn’t changed.

“We have to guard. We have to play great defense to be successful. We’d like to play up and down the floor and be in transition as much as we can. When we get into halfcourt offense, we’ve got to take care of the basketball. I’d much rather play fast and get a decent, good look early before the defense has a chance to get set.”

Shaffer knows they’ll have to be able to do both to be a good team.

“It all starts with guarding people, playing good defense, and rebounding.”

The Plainsmen finished last season with an 11-8 overall record. They went 2-4 in the conference but did not make the state tournament after a loss to Cheyenne East at the sub-regional in Cheyenne.

There are three returning starters and four total lettermen back from last season. Two of them are seniors Diego Medina and Trey Enzi. They talked with KOWB’s David Settle about their preparation for the new season, being seniors, and more.

Laramie will play at Natrona County to start the new season on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. That’s followed by a game versus Green River at NCHS on Friday at 4:30 p.m. Finally, on Saturday, it’s the Rock Springs Tigers at noon at Kelly Walsh High School.

Shaffer likes the slate they will play.

“It’s good. We get to see three teams from the West (Conference) that we don’t get to see (the rest of) the regular season, so I think that’s a good chance for us to see some different teams, and to see where we’re at.”

It’s like a measuring stick early, so Shaffer can see where they need to improve.

As for early expectations, it’s about competing and playing hard, says Shaffer.

“The other things are going to fall in line if you do that. That’s got to be the first thing, and like I said, in the two-and-a-half-weeks, we’ve had, this group has been the best we’ve had in three years, in terms of taking care of that piece, so I don’t think that’s going to be an issue. It’s got to start there. Then, it’s the first weekend, so you never know what to expect. We haven’t played anybody but ourselves, and the hard thing about opening up in a three-game tournament is you don’t get any chance to practice and fix what’s not going well.”

He said he knows the team is excited and ready to play someone other than themselves.

KOWB radio will broadcast all three Laramie Plainsmen games from Casper this opening weekend. Coverage will start with the girls’ portion of the doubleheader, with the boys’ games to follow. The start times of radio coverage are 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, 2:30 p.m. on Friday, and 10 a.m. on Saturday. David Settle will call the action. This is his 23rd season as the voice of LHS basketball on KOWB. You can listen on the radio (AM 1290) or through KOWB Mobile (app). You can also listen online or through smart speakers.

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