It was a battle worthy of being called a senior night contest for the Van Meter girls basketball team as they hosted conference foe Des Moines Christian Monday, Feb. 10 in Van Meter.

It was a tight battle all the way through with several lead changes but in the end, Van Meter’s comeback bid fell short and the Bulldogs fell in a close contest 42-41. It was a tight contest for the majority of the game but a 15-9 second quarter eventually downed the Bulldogs. Last-second shots by Des Moines Christian seemed to be abundant and it rounded out the first quarter of action ending in a 12-11 Lions lead. Following the 15 point second quarter by the visiting Lions, the host Bulldogs took to the halftime break with a 27-20 deficit.

The tides started turning for Van Meter once the second half began and it began with a seven-point run to begin the third quarter.

“We took advantage of some opportunities to start the second half and a lot of girls stepped up,” said head coach Jay Olson.

That came despite nearly ten turnovers across the second half of play. Even with that said, the strong defense by Van Meter helped to keep the score within four points at any one given time.

With it being senior night, the two Bulldog seniors were already going to be highlighted but they took things a step further by producing big in the game. That included Clair Lauterbach and her clutch shooting which brought the Bulldogs a late 37-35 lead with just over five minutes left in the game. The senior then broke a 37-fall tie and gave the Bulldogs a late 41-39 lead. The defense was also a big factor late, holding the Lions to eight straight scoreless possessions midway through the final quarter. Despite the overall outcome, those late-game three-pointers were crucial to keeping the Bulldogs in the game.

“Her teammates did a good job of moving the ball and allowing Clair to find open spaces and she connected on some big shots,” said Olson. “Clair is a great shooter and our girls made great passes to her.”

Lauterbach ended up leading the way in scoring for Van Meter with 13 points followed by fellow senior Natalie Barth who connected on five of seven shots from field goal range for 11 points. She did lead the way off the glass, tying junior Jorja Hanselman with eight rebounds and followed by junior Josie Durflinger with six total rebounds. As a team, the Bulldogs collected 33 rebounds on the night.

The loss brings the Bulldog record down to 12-8 overall while dropping their conference mark to 10-3. Despite the loss, it was a highlight of the great work put forth by the senior players and managers.

“These seniors have such a big impact on this team,” said Olson. “They’ve shown up and put the work in and good things have come because of it. We had them talking to the freshmen about showing up and putting in the work. Tonight they helped give us a chance, something they’ve done all season. “

Next up for the Bulldogs will be the season finale on Tuesday, Feb. 11 as they travel to Pleasantville High School for one last conference battle. The game will begin with tip-off at 6:15 p.m.