The quest for an elusive state championship begins Thursday for the Laramie Plainsmen at the 4A State Basketball Championships in Casper.

Laramie opens play against the Kelly Walsh Trojans at 9 o’clock Thursday night. The game will be played at Casper College’s Swede Erickson Thunderbird Gymnasium.

This will be the third meeting between the two teams. They split their regular season match-ups. The Trojans won 52-40 on Dec. 12, 2015 in Riverton. The Plainsmen returned the favor with a 43-34 victory in Cheyenne on Jan. 8, 2016.

Laramie (8-16) is led by senior Jake Aadland. He’s averaging 16.5 points and two steals per game to pace the Plainsmen. Aadland is also second in rebounding at 5.3 per contest.

Kelly Walsh (12-10) is headed by junior’s Jaxon Hiatt and Manny N’Tula. They both average 10.3 points per game. Hiatt grabs five rebounds per game. The Trojans have two other players, Cameron Carter and Sam Marsh, who average 9.2 and 9.6 points per contest, respectively.

Both squads play a similar, defensive-minded style. LHS averages 44.8 points per game and allows 50.5. KW scores 48.7 per game, but surrenders 47 a game.

Laramie head coach Ryan Puckett provided insight into his squad’s first trip to state since 2013. He discusses qualifying in his first year as head coach; what the match-up is like; how the bracket breaks down; and what preparations are like.

The last time the Plainsmen advanced past the first round was in 2011.

By contrast, Kelly Walsh has made it to the semifinals for three consecutive years under fifth year head coach Randy Roden.

According to wyoming-basketball.com, this is only the second ever meeting between these two programs. The first was in the 1984 semifinals. The Trojans won that game, 50-49.

Broadcast Coverage

Laramie Plainsmen basketball from the state tournament can be heard on KOWB (AM 1290). David Settle and VerDon Hoopes will call the action. The broadcast is slated to start at 8:15 p.m.