There was no way Ella Noel and Lindsey Eimers were going to let Dubuque Senior’s five seniors come up empty-handed in their final game at Nora Gymnasium.
That was made clear in the opening minute of the game when Noel drilled a 3-pointer from way downtown, and it was all gravy for the Rams the rest of the way.
Led by its senior leaders, Noel and Eimers scored 14 points apiece as Senior never trailed in a 60-35 blowout of Western Dubuque on Friday night at Nora Gym. The convincing victory assured the Rams (9-12) would win their final game on their home floor for the senior group, which includes Bridget Weber, Morgan McDowell and Rylee Capesius.
“It means a lot for us to win this one,” said Noel, who scored all 14 of her points in the first half and helped the Rams build a 35-10 advantage at halftime. “This year we had higher expectations, but it was up and down the whole year. For us to really establish ourselves and come out with a win that big, it means so much. Getting a win on senior night, that’s what you want. We knew we had one more here on this floor, and we gave it our all.”
It was a group effort for the Rams, who had nine players score. Capesius hit a pair of treys off the bench for six points, while Olivia Baxter, Anna Kruse and Kayla Grall added five points each; Mya Beau and McDowell scored three apiece; Josie Potts and Elly Haber netted two points each and Reagen Whalen made one free throw.
“It’s huge to win this game,” Noel said. “Coming in we knew we had a chance to sweep them on the season and we were able to come out and pick up our energy. Control the game from the start. We weren’t quite able to do that over at their place, so it was nice to have the game in hand from the start.”
The win also meant the Rams finished 4-2 in city play this season, good for runner-up behind city champ Hempstead (6-0). Senior swept Wahlert (2-4 in city) and WD (0-6), but dropped both games to the Mustangs.
“It was a nice way to send these five seniors out in their last night here at Nora,” Rams coach Jared Deutsch said. “I’m just proud of the way everyone played tonight.”
Senior broke out to an 8-0 lead before the Bobcats scored, and the lead only grew as the Rams used a full-court trapping press that forced WD into 1-for-11 shooting with two points and five turnovers in the first quarter. The Rams’ lead was 25 at halftime and 50-19 by the end of the third quarter.
“That’s something we decided on film after the first game,” Deutsch said of the press. “There we really focused on keeping the ball out of (Jenna) Fiedler’s hands, and this time we thought we’d trap and try to do a few more things aggressively. It paid dividends. It got us playing hard early and got us looks out of the half court. I think the confidence grew from there. We put some points on the board and kept things rolling.”
Now the Rams turn their attention to a regional semifinal game at No. 5-ranked Cedar Falls on Feb. 22.
“We wanted to use this game to really get us going into postseason,” Noel said. “We know that we played right with Cedar Falls when we played them before, and we have a chance to go on a run here. Getting shots to fall is going to be huge for next week.”
The Bobcats (6-15) were led by Fiedler’s 14 points.