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By Chase Lynn, Dubuque Senior junior
DUBUQUE – Last season, the Dubuque Senior boys’ basketball team lost a heartbreaking game against the Linn-Mar Lions during the first round of state basketball tournament.
With 14 seconds left in the game, senior Josh Weeber drilled a 3-pointer to give the Rams a 50-49 lead. However, seconds later Marcus Paige of Linn-Mar, now playing at University of North Carolina, made an amazing pass down court to teammate Andy Henry, who put the ball in the basket to give Linn-Mar a one point lead with a little more then a second remaining. After a Senior timeout, junior Kyle Haber dribbled the ball down the court of Wells Fargo Arena and put up a running leaner that went around the rim and out, ending one of Senior’s greatest seasons in years.
This season the Rams hope to return to the state tournament.
“It adds fuel to the fire,” Weeber said. ”The guys have been working incredibly hard in the off-season.”
This year, Senior returns three of its starting five from last years team. Due to a foreign exchange rule for students, the Rams lost former point-guard Domen Zevnik, who now attends cross-town rival Wahlert.
The Rams also will have to adjust to not having Weeber for their first few games due to an Achillies injury he suffered over the summer. Weeber lead the 18-6 Rams with 360 points last season.
“We will be losing our go-to guy,” Coach Wendell Eimers said. “It’ll be up to the rest of the team to step-up their play.”
Weeber is expected to return sometime around Christmas, but still hopes to help his teammates on and off the court.
“I am just going to try and motivate and be a leader off the court,” Weeber said.
A huge difference this year for the Rams will be height advantage.
“This year’s team will actually have more height than last years and hopefully be more physical,” Eimers said. ”We feel like we are one of the top teams in the MVC and state.”
The 6-foot-3 Haber also feels height will give the Rams an advantage this year.
“I think this years team will be very tall again, I think we have a shot at another great season,” Haber said.
The Rams expect the starting five for their first game to be Haber, sophomore Luke McDonnell, junior Seth Bonifas, senior Kyle Holdridge and, most likely, junior Lucas LeGrand for the injured Weeber.
“With Josh’s injury we will be starting the season with a first-team all-state player most likely sitting on the bench,” Eimers said. “We have a lot of guys who could be starters for the Rams.”
The Rams have two new members this year, too, in a transfer student , senior Israel Reeves of South Carolina, and a foreign exchange student, Luka Bozek of Serbia.
The Rams not only hope to return to the state tournament, but plan to come away with more than just the experience of playing at it.
“Hopefully we will have an opportunity to play again at state and win down at state,” Weeber said. “That will be the main goal for the season.
The players also have great expectations for this year’s squad.
“I have high expectations with this year’s team,” Weeber said. “I think the biggest one is to be playing in Des Moines.”
The Rams kick off the season Dec. 4 at home against Clinton.
“This team has worked so hard this off-season and I can not wait to see how much they have improved,” Eimers said.