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Shayne Bourque still looks in a mirror and has a hard time believing what he did.

But whenever the Merrimack High School senior is on the basketball court, he knows it’s for real.

All his life, Bourque has filled the role of the big man on the floor, playing as much inside as out. A year ago, that included using his girth in the lane as much as his height.

When the season ended, Bourque was faced with a problem. While he could get away with being a 6-foot, 5-inch big man playing high school basketball in New Hampshire, he knew he would be used in a different position were he to continue playing in college.

“I just knew that if I wanted to have a successful season, I had to lose weight and get in shape,” he said. “I mean, I’m not a tall big man. I’m tall for New Hampshire high school, but I knew I needed to do something if I wanted to play at the next level.”

Bourque began making better decisions with his diet and started running a couple of miles every day. At first, it was difficult. It wasn’t just the work, but also trying to get into a regular routine during the school year.

“They tell you it doesn’t happen in a day or a week, and honestly, I got frustrated,” he said. “I’ve always been the big man growing up. I’d always been a heavyset kid.

“I work hard and watch my meals, and you’d think you’d look at the scale and after a week lose five pounds. That’s not how it works. It’s a long process and once I got that in my head, that I needed to slow down, and I will see results eventually.”

The end of the school year made things easier, as well.

“I could set a routine,” Bourque said. “Wake up, eat breakfast, workout, have lunch, go play basketball and during the summer was when I noticed major results.”

When Bourque went in for his annual physical in the fall, he’d dropped 50 pounds from the year before.

The change was noticeable for him in every aspect of life, but especially where he wanted to see it the most – on the basketball court.

“I don’t get as winded as I did last year and I can play longer in games,” Bourque said. “I feel like my vertical has increased and I’ve gotten stronger. I feel like I’ve excelled in the aspects that I’ve need to.”

Bourque has always been able to shoot from the perimeter, but this year, he’s felt more comfortable doing that, not just because of he’s in better shape, but because Merrimack coach Tim Goodridge has confidence in him to shoot from there.

“For a big guy, it’s nice to have the ability to shoot from any spot on the floor,” said Goodridge after Bourque posted a double-double (23 points, 10 rebounds), including three 3-pointers, in Merrimack’s 59-30 victory over Concord back on Jan. 24. “He works hard every second he’s on the floor. He moves just as well with the ball as he does without it. That sets up a lot of good looks and scoring opportunities for him. And he’s strong on the glass. He works as hard for every rebound as he does to create offense.”

It’s helped open things up for the Tomahawks’ offense as well.

“I feel like it helps us a lot,” Bourque said. “It gets pressure off Eric (Gendron) and (Austin) Franzen. If they can get it to me on the wing, or if I can get it inside, I can catch and make a move or I can kick. It opens them up more.

“It’s nice that we compliment each other and it works out well. Big men, they see me and they say I can’t shoot. It they give me space, I can hit it, and then if they respect (the outside shot), I can go right by them.”

While he’s helped Merrimack have another successful season, Bourque also achieved his other goal of playing college basketball, recently committing to play at Colby Sawyer.

“It’s just a great feeling to know what I’ve accomplished,” Bourque said. “People comment on it all the time. Sometimes I look in the mirror and say ‘wow.’ I’ve accomplished something here and it’s a great feeling.”