Just one game separated the Van Meter Girls basketball team from a state tournament appearance as they took on the power known as North Linn (21-2) in Marshalltown.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, a season-low in first and second quarter points put them down big early and Van Meter ended up falling 72-34. The loss effectively concluded what has been a more than strong season for the Bulldogs, concluding the 2019-20 campaign with a 15-9 record.
North Linn shot out of the gates with a strong defensive presence and held the Bulldogs to a season-low three first-quarter points. Van Meter quickly saw themselves down 17-3 following the first quarter of play. Even though the Bulldogs produced more second-quarter points (seven), North Linn answered with a 13 point run, thus concluding the first half with a 37-10 advantage over Van Meter. An 18-6 run to kick-off the third quarter kept the score at bay and left Van Meter with a lot of work to do entering the final quarter. The Bulldogs made a valiant effort with 18 points across the final quarter, but it wasn’t enough and the Bulldogs dropped the game 72-34.
Even with the loss and the conclusion of the season, there were several high points that spun across the game. One such moment came when senior Clair Lauterbach broke into the history books be eclipsing 1,000 career points scored. In her second straight year leading the Bulldogs in scoring, Lauterbach broke through for 1,001 career points following the game Wednesday night. Entering the contest, Lauterbach was just 12 points shy of a mark few players ever reach in their high school tenure. Overall Lauterbach totaled 13 points on the night to pace the Bulldogs as she has for 21 out of the 24 games this season.
“One of her goals at the beginning of the season was to reach 1,000 career points,” began head coach Jay Olson. “It’s a challenging thing to do because as a returning leading scorer, opponents have put their best defenders on Clair. It’s a big accomplishment.”
Also with a strong night that had a big impact came from fellow senior Natalie Barth. Along with six points scored, Barth hauled in five rebounds on the night. Those five rebounds not only tied for the team-best on the night but also brought her just nine rebounds away from 500 career rebounds.
“Getting 500 rebounds in a career is just as big as 1,000 points,” started Olson. “Just like Clair, Natalie has had to deal with other teams putting one of their best post players n her each game.”
All told the 2019-20 campaign may not have ended in a state tournament run, but it did produce a very strong season. The Bulldogs came into the year having lost two of their four top scoring threats to go along with a lot of underclassmen who would take on significant roles in the new season. Now, Van Meter girls basketball walks away from the season with a 15 win record and just one win shy of a state tournament berth.
“I asked the team how many of them put themselves one game away from a state tournament and none of them raised their hands so I think they exceeded their own expectations,” said Olson.