Eric Jamerman, Ty Larson and Tyrel Leman grew up playing together in Douglas.
Fittingly, the three will get to play one more game together on Saturday. The three recent graduates will join forces on the South team in the Wyoming Coaches Foundation Boys Basketball Game at Casper College’s Swede Erickson Thunderbird Gym.
“We’ve been playing football and basketball and everything together since before middle school,” Larson said Wednesday after practice.
Added Leman: “It’s basically like a second home with these guys. It’s like we’ve been playing together all our lives.”
All three will continue their athletic careers at the next level. Larson and Jamerman will play basketball at Eastern Wyoming College and Chadron State College, respectively, while Leman will run hurdles at the University of Wyoming.
But their focus this week is on the chance to make one more memory together on the basketball court.
After all, they thought their victory over Lyman in the Class 3A third-place game at state back in March marked the end of their careers as teammates.
“When we played Lyman we thought it was going to be our last time playing together,” Jamerman said. “Now that we get to play on the same team one more time it’s a special feeling.”
The late addition
When the all-star rosters were released in June, Leman wasn’t listed as part of the South team. But with UW signee Hunter Thompson (Pine Bluffs) still sidelined by a foot injury, Leman got the call.
“I found out Tuesday morning,” he said. “I didn’t have any plans, but I would have dropped them for this because I couldn’t pass up the chance to play basketball one more time.”
Leman averaged 9.4 points and a team-best 7.4 rebounds per game for the Bearcats (20-5) this past season. He also caught 23 passes for 574 yards and eight touchdowns to help Douglas (8-2) win the East Conference.
While Leman experienced success both on the hardwood and the gridiron, it was on the track where he excelled.
At the state meet in May he won both the 110- and 300-meter hurdles and, along with Jamerman, was part of the Bearcats’ state championship 4x400 relay team. He also won state titles in the 110 hurdles and the triple jump as a junior.
“I’m going to run hurdles at UW,” he said, “but I’ll definitely be coming back to watch these guys play basketball. It’s a forever bond I’m going to have with these guys.
“When we’re out on the court together everything connects. We hold each other accountable because we expect a lot out of each other. It’s an amazing feeling.”
In December, Jamerman committed to play basketball at Western Wyoming Community College. But when Mustangs’ head coach Ryan Orton took an assistant coaching job in Texas, Jamerman began to look elsewhere.
“When Coach Orton took a job in Texas it kind of put me in a bind because he was the reason I wanted to go to Western in the first place,” Jamerman said. “At the beginning of the year (Northern Colorado) offered me a (chance to) walk on and I went and looked at the school and I loved it there, but it was just too expensive.
“I thought about going back to Western, and then Chadron State started calling me and they ended up offering me a scholarship that I couldn’t pass up. It’s been a blessing to have these options.”
Even though Jamerman was intent on playing basketball at the next level, he likely could have pursued other options.
A two-time all-state receiver, Jamerman caught 47 passes for 1,004 yards (No. 10 all-time in the state) and a state-best 17 touchdowns this past season and was named to the Star-Tribune Super 25 team.
In the spring, he won the state title in the high jump with a leap of 6 feet, 6 inches.
On the basketball court, however, was where Jamerman was at his best. He averaged 18.8 points, 3.6 assists and 3.3 steals per game for the Bearcats.
Whether it was on the football field or on the basketball court, Larson excelled when he had the ball in his hands.
Larson earned Super 25 recognition after completing 128 of 249 passes for 2,395 yards (No. 4 all-time in the state) and a state-best 40 touchdowns. On the hardwood he averaged 13.2 points, 5.5 assists and 2.7 steals per game.
Now he has one more opportunity to win his final game while playing alongside Jamerman and Leman, and playing for head coach Lee Toldson, who will lead the South squad.
“We thought we ended on this floor,” Larson said. “So to get another chance with these guys and with coach is pretty special. I think the hardest thing for me was knowing I wouldn’t be playing with those guys anymore. We were friends, then we formed a family and then it was all over.”
While Larson, Jamerman and Leman all enjoyed impressive senior seasons, it’s difficult not to think about what could have been.
Douglas expected to get a chance to avenge a last-second 29-28 regular-season loss to Star Valley in the state championship football game. Instead, the teams met in the semifinals and the defending state champion Braves won a 61-42 shootout. Those were the Bearcats’ only two losses of the season.
In basketball, Douglas and Riverton were seemingly on a collision course to meet for the state title, but Riverton suffered its first loss of the season in the West Regional championship game, forcing an epic semifinal matchup. The Wolverines prevailed 52-49 before routing Worland in the championship game.
Those losses are hard to forget.
“I know, personally, I just replay the last few seconds of each game,” Larson said. “I think, ‘What if I would have done this?’ Or, ‘What if this would have happened?’ But then I snap back into reality. We had a good year and we had a lot of memories and we made a lot of people proud.”
Jamerman has similar feelings.
“I always wonder what I could have done, what shot I could have made,” he said. “But you can’t do that to yourself; you’ve got to move on.
“Our senior year was full of so many memories. We had learning experiences from the losses and from the wins.”
Saturday, the three Bearcats will get one more chance to add to those memories.
“These last two seasons were special,” Toldson said. “On and off the court those three guys are leaders, and that’s hard to come by. They rose to the occasion as seniors and they made my job a lot easier.
“I have a special relationship with all three of these guys because they always wanted to work hard for me. I’m going to miss having them around, on and off the court.”