Comets among state’s top guns chosen for ‘Shootout’

Press photo by John Burbridge Charles City’s Mike Cranshaw pushes the ball upcourt with fellow Comet senior Cade Hemesath in tow during Tuesday’s Northeast Iowa Conference victory over New Hampton.
Press photo by John Burbridge
Charles City’s Mike Cranshaw pushes the ball upcourt with fellow Comet senior Cade Hemesath in tow during Tuesday’s Northeast Iowa Conference victory over New Hampton.
By John Burbridge sports@charlescitypress.com

Good help is hard to find.

Even more so when you’re trying to find help for the help.

But Charles City boys basketball coach Ben Klapperich isn’t complaining with his team’s defense more than willing to lend helping hands to the helping hands

“Not only are our guys rotating well to help their teammates, but the help is also getting help,” he said. “That what you like to see … everyone coming to together on defense.”

Going into this season, not too many people were fretting about the Comets’ offense which returned plenty of firepower with all-state guard Jackson Molstead putting up 19.4 points per game last season as a sophomore, and senior forward Cade Hemesath coming off a junior campaign where he averaged 15.8 ppg while shooting 50 percent from the floor.

But so far this season, the Comets have picked it up defensively — inside the paint and out on the perimeter — often putting teams in early holes from which they can’t climb out.

As a result, Charles City has won nine straight after dropping its season-opener to Dike-New Hartford and sports a Northeast Iowa-leading 6-0 conference record.

Shortly after breaking a 13-game losing streak dating back to 2012 with an overtime win over NEIC rival Waverly-Shell Rock on the Go-Hawks’ home floor, Charles City garnered a No. 8 ranking in Class 3A in the subsequent Associated Press Iowa Boys Basketball Top 10 Poll.

Welcome to the club as the Comets will be in the presence of a bevy of other Top 10 teams when they participate in the Wells Fargo Advisors Shootout, Jan. 20 at U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids.

As part of the seven-game showcase, Charles City will take on Mount Pleasant in the 12 p.m. game.

Led by senior guard Brady Sartorius, who is among the state scoring leaders averaging 23.2 ppg, the Panthers are ranked No. 4 in Class 3A.

“It will be our toughest game so far this season,” Klapperich said. “We’ll have a good idea where we stand after facing them.”

The “Shootout” will also feature Class 4A No. 1-ranked Iowa City West, which will play Cedar Rapids Prairie in the 7 p.m. game; Class 4A No. 5-ranked Sioux City East, which will play Cedar Rapids Kennedy in the 5:15 p.m. game ; Class 3A No. 6-ranked Cedar Rapids, which will play Solon in the opening at 8:30 a.m.; and Class 2A No. 5-ranked Cascade, which will play Osage at 10:15 a.m.

Waverly-Shell Rock is also part of the shootout as the Go-Hawks will play West Delaware in the 1:45 p.m. game.

“They didn’t take everyone … you had to be invited to be in this,” said Klapperich, who was approached by shootout organizer Tyler Cleveland last winter when they were putting together a slate of games.

At the time, the Comets were unranked and in the midst of a 15-7 season.

“But he knew we had a lot coming back this season and that we should be even better,” Klapperich said. “We dropped some teams from last year’s schedule, but taking on Mount Pleasant should help get us better prepared for the postseason.”

In terms of conception and formation, the Jan. 20 event is the first Wells Fargo Advisors Shootout. A subsequently conceived shootout at U.S. Cellular Center is due to take place a week earlier (Jan. 13). Cedar Rapids Xavier is also part of that slate.

Wells Fargo Advisors Shootout

Jan. 20

At U.S. Cellular Center

370 1st Avenue NE,
Cedar Rapids

SCHEDULE

8:30 a.m. — Solon vs. Cedar Rapids Xavier

10:15 a.m. — Osage vs.
Cascade

12 p.m. — Charles City vs. Mount Pleasant

1:45 p.m. — West Delaware vs. Waverly-Shell Rock

3:30 p.m. — Western Dubuque vs. Linn-Mar

5:15 p.m. — Sioux City East vs. Cedar Rapids Kennedy

7 p.m. — Iowa City West vs. Cedar Rapids Prairie

Tickets are $10 — Available at Box Office

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