On an emotional and special night, the Van Meter boys basketball team pulled out all the stops to defeat conference foe Des Moines Christian Monday, Feb. 10.

Inside Van Meter High School, the Bulldogs honored their seniors with senior night and did so in dramatic fashion with a 56-51 victory to keep their record untainted. After wrapping up a fourth consecutive West Central Activities Conference crown on Friday, the Bulldogs took down a Lions squad Monday in a battle that could only be put into a few words for head coach Jed Alexander.

“Execution,” began Alexander. “We executed well, for the most part, tonight against a tough Des Moines Christian team.”

It truly was a tough Des Moines Christian squad who marched into Van Meter with just three conference losses on the season and returned their top offensive threat in Curran Ingram. Overall it truly was a night of execution at the right time for the Bulldogs who had to battle back for the majority of the contest. That included taking things down to the wire in the first quarter where Jackson Wilcox connected on a last-second three-pointer to even out the first quarter scoring at 14-14.

A cornerstone of Van Meter basketball has been executing the fundamentals and Monday night, they did just that from the free-throw line missing just six shots from the charity stripe all night long. That really came in handy across the second quarter of play as six out of the ten second-quarter points came from the free-throw line for Van Meter. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they were outdone 17-10 across the second quarter and thus faced a seven-point deficit at the halftime break.

From there the second half was all about cutting further and further into the Des Moines Christian lead. The Bulldogs started that process by shooting 60 percent from the floor in the third quarter. Aside from early on in the first quarter, Van Meter hadn’t endured a lead. That changed with just over four minutes left in the contest which began with a pair of Anthony Potthoff free throws and continued with one made free throw by fellow senior Parker Fryar. That officially gave the Bulldogs their first real lead of the contest which they never looked back from and showcased the importance of free-throw shooting.

“We made our free-throws at the end for the most part towards the end,” said Alexander. “We were pretty good from the line overall and that’s what it takes to win these close games. We didn’t really turn the ball over in the third quarter and we got ourselves to the free-throw line which was big.”

That offensive production was part of a larger, offensively-minded fourth quarter where the Bulldogs posted 21 fourth-quarter points.

That included yet another big-time three-point connection by Jackson Wilcox who helped to give Van Meter a much-needed separation and provided a big key moment in the win.

“That’s what he’s out there to do,” began coach Alexander of Wilcox. “He’s out there to guard really well because he moves his feet and if he’s got his feet underneath of him, he needs to fire that thing. They (his shots) came at really big times for us which you need to have because you can’t always rely on your same guys all the time.”

Anthony Potthoff paced the way in scoring for the Bulldogs with 18 points scored on the night with complete with a near-perfect mark of 8-of-9 from the charity stripe. Thanks to a pair of two-point shots and three-point made buckets, sophomore Chris Schreck was not too far behind Potthoff with 12 points on the night. Off the glass, it was rather light but still, Potthoff emerged as the top rebounder with six on the night, giving him 106 so far for the season.

It was an absolute thriller that sent off the seniors in the best way possible. It was an outcome that not only put another check in the 2019-20 win column but added to the greatness that has been the senior class. With the victory, the Van Meter senior class has accumulated an 87-8 record on the hardwood since the start of their freshmen seasons.

Next up on the docket for the Bulldogs will be a trip to Pleasantville High School Tuesday, Feb. 11 to wrap up the regular season. Tip-off is set for 7:15 p.m.