Comet boys complete regular-season sweep of Vikings
By John Burbridge
DECORAH — No matter how hotly contested and back-and-forth a basketball “barn burner” may appear, for one team it inflicts more pain of an uphill battle than to the other.
By the strained look of the faces along Decorah’s bench during timeouts in the latter game of Friday’s Northeast Iowa Conference varsity basketball doubleheader while playing host to Charles City, the Vikings surely were saddled with the “Sisyphus” role.
The CC boys had defeated the Vikings at Comet Gym last year (Dec. 9) but really not too long ago. A successful home defense by the Vikings would have evened the series and likely provided momentum if a “rubber third game” emerged in the postseason.
In the end, the series as well as any pending postseason momentum all went to the Comets by way of a 78-69 final.
Charles City took a 6-point lead at intermission (39-33) before the Vikings pulled within 2 midway through the third quarter.
An added concern for the Comets came when all-conference senior Chase Low picked up his fourth foul with just a little less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter after he was ruled the culprit in a loose-ball collision.
But even with Low relegated to the bench, a couple of one-handed throw-downs from Comet junior Kam Mestas spawned from first-step blow-bys during half-court sets may have taken the wind out the Vikings’ sails as Charles City went on to maintain a double-digit lead for most of the fourth quarter.
Decorah was able to lengthen the game in the final minutes, immediately fouling after 3-point attempts whether they made them or not.
But again in what has been trending favorably for the Comets as of late, Charles City didn’t cooperate with the must-foul situation by converting at the free-throw line.
Mestas went 5 of 5 at the FT line in the second half, and fellow Comet junior Keenan Wiley went 6 of 8 in the second half — most of which in the final three minutes.
Neither Mestas (who led the Comets with 23 points) nor Wiley (who scored 15 and grabbed eight rebounds) are textbook free-throw shooters, but they do concentrate enough to consistently get the ball within the cylinder, and when they do miss, teammates who normally shoot-around and practice with them tend to display prescient abilities when tracking down and retrieving the missed shots.
Senior Brennan Schmidt didn’t miss much in the first half as his four 3-pointers helped him score all of his 15 points in the first 16 minutes for the Comets (8-3, 4-1 NEIC).
Decorah senior Ben Bockman had a game-high 30 points that included 8 of 12 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc for the Vikings (7-5, 3-3).
* This is where the post-holiday stress coupled with a long basketball season can get very trying for a team like the Charles City Comets girls varsity squad.
Of course for the Comets, there is only one squad. And their season-and-a-half-long quest to finally get into the win column is not going to get any easier in the coming weeks with several ranked teams still vying for postseason first-round byes awaiting along the homestretch of the schedule.
Against the Class 4A No. 6-ranked Vikings, the Comets fell to 0-11 overall and 0-5 in the NEIC with a 72-11 loss in the first game of Friday’s DH.
Bryar Duwe and Yazmen Whitsitt each scored 16 points for the Viking (13-2, 6-0).
* Charles City boys and girls will be back in action on Tuesday (Jan. 17) when they take on Crestwood in Cresco.
The Charles City girls team will be back home on Thursday to host West Hancock.
CHARLES CITY 78, DECORAH 69
Scoring By Quarters
CC 18 21 17 22 — 78
DEC 16 17 16 20 — 69
CHARLES CITY — Brennan Schmidt 15, Keenan Wiley 15, Chase Low 8, Kayden Kasemeier 6, Kam Mestas 23, Jeb Wandro 5.
DECORAH — Ethan Holthaus 5, Tate Johnson 7, Kaiden Quandahl 9, Ben Bockman 30, Matthew Bockman 16, Andrew Rhodes 2.
RECORDS — Charles City 8-3 (4-1 Northeast Iowa Conference), Decorah 7-5 (3-3).
DECORAH 72, CHARLES CITY 11
Scoring By Quarters
CC 2 2 7 0 — 11
DEC 30 23 7 12 — 72
RECORDS — Charles City 0-11 (0-5 Northeast Iowa Conference), Decorah 13-2 (6-0).