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A Clockwork Orange: Comets may be built for forthcoming 35-second shot clock

A Clockwork Orange: Comets may be built for forthcoming 35-second shot clock
Press photo by John Burbridge
Charles City junior Kam Mestas, who recently transferred from Mason City, slams the ball through the hoop during an open-gym session in Comet Gym.

By John Burbridge

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CHARLES CITY — The forthcoming version of the Charles City Comets boys basketball team is built to play above the rim.

It’s also built for what’s in place above the backboard.

This prep basketball season in Iowa will employ a 35-second shot clock.

“I think the move was long overdue,” Comets boys head coach Ben Klapperich said.

Thanks to donations from Mike Molstead Motors and Zoetis, Charles City has installed shot clocks above the competition backboards in both the high school and middle school gyms — the middle school gym, a.k.a. “Comet Gym” is where most of Charles City’s varsity home games are played.

But Charles City not only has the equipment for this new era of basketball, they also have the team.

“It’s going to be harder for lesser teams to stay in the game against better teams,” Klapperich said. “When we played Waverly-Shell Rock when they had Austin Phyfe [now a two-time All-Missouri Valley Conference forward for the University of Northern Iowa], we would try to limit the amount of possessions in the game by running time off the clock to keep the game close. You can’t do that now.”

But Klapperich is not complaining and he probably shouldn’t. His Comets are going to be the type of team where more possessions per game will likely be a good thing.

Among those returning for the Comets is 6-foot-5 senior swingman Chase Low, who led the team in scoring (16.8 ppg), rebounds (7.2 rpg) and steals (1.7 spg). Chase also shot better than 55% from the floor in part because he led the team as well as the conference in slam dunks.

“Chase has had a great summer,” Klapperich said. “He’s gotten bigger and stronger, and he has really improved his defense.”

In addition to returning junior Jack Hanson, who had a breakout season as a sophomore while averaging 9.7 ppg, and junior Jeb Wandro, who shot 33.3% from beyond the 3-point arc and has improved his inside game from last season, the Comets have two additions, who — like Low — can throw it down with authority.

They are 6-5 junior Kam Mestas and 6-4 junior Keenan Wiley.

Mestas is a transfer from Mason City. If you type in Mestas’s name in a Google search, a variety of basketball video highlights with Mestas tomahawk dunking often with his left hand in the open court as well as amid half-court sets during elite offseason basketball showcases/tournaments will pop up en masse.

With their returning as well as added athleticism, Charles City’s offense is more apt to find its stride under the clock-hastened format. But Klapperich, whose team officially started practicing on Monday (Nov. 14), plans to also use the shot clock for a defensive advantage.

“We’re going to switch up our defenses and the way we pressure the ball,” he said. “We want to minimize their options … force them to start their offensive sets with only 20 seconds left on the clock.”

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