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Comet boys win 3rd straight with 77-53 victory over Cadets

Comet boys win 3rd straight with 77-53 victory over Cadets
Press photo by John Burbridge
Charles City senior Janila Toney shoots a free throw during the second half of Tuesday’s NEIC girls basketball game against Crestwood. Toney led the Comets with 6 points, but it wasn’t enough as the Cadets prevailed 57-24.

By John Burbridge

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CRESCO — The Charles City Comets had no problem putting numbers on the scoreboard during Tuesday’s Northeast Iowa Conference boys basketball road game against Crestwood.

But adding to the personal foul column is not a stat you want to tally. Especially not early.

Except for a brief stretch midway through the first quarter, the Comets led throughout the game on way to winning their third straight with a 77-53 victory over the Cadets.

Charles City’s biggest threat may have been from the officials’ whistles.

In a tightly-called game, Comet junior Kam Mestas and senior Chase Low were both called for multiple fouls early and were relegated to long stretches on the bench.

But Low, who scored 9 of the Comets first 11 points by way of 3-of-3 shooting from beyond the 3-point mark, still managed to compile a game-high 20 points.

“It was great to see Chase Low get off to a good start,” said Comet head coach Ben Klapperich, whose team improved to 9-3 overall and 5-1 in the NEIC. “He’s been shooting the ball really well at practice, but it was nice to see that translate into a game.”

Mestas scored 19 points which included a pair of throw-downs breaking the Cadets’ matchup half-court zone.

Keenan Wiley had a double-double which included 12 points and 10 rebounds, and point guard Jack Hanson scored 9 and dished out five assists for Charles City.

“Having a real balanced scoring attack makes us a tough guard,” Klapperich said. “I thought that our guys did a great job of keeping their composure throughout the entire game.”

Crestwood (10-4, 2-4) was led by Zach Mehmert, who — with a team-high 17 points — also posted a double-double when including his rebounds.

A throw-back to the post-up era of basketball, the 6-foot-5 wide-body Mehmert effectively uses his size and nimble footwork to conquer space in the paint to get his team points, rebounds and … perhaps most importantly … fouls called against the opposition.

Even though foul trouble often prevents Charles City from keeping its starting five together on the court for long periods of time, the more possessions, ball touches and shots taken by the Comets’ go-to offensive players tend to make them more efficient as the game progresses no matter who else is on the floor.

A 22-point fourth-quarter finish was definitely needed for Charles City after Cadet sophomore Jackson Gaul hit a 65-footer (nothing but net) to beat the buzzer at the end of the third quarter to suddenly draw Crestwood within single-digits (55-47).

The Comets’ lone NEIC loss was to Waverly-Shell Rock when they lost in double-overtime on the Go-Hawks’ home floor. Charles City is due to host WSR, which is atop the NEIC with an undefeated conference record, this Friday (Jan. 20 … weather permitting) in the latter game of a varsity doubleheader.

* In one of their more competitive games of the season, the Charles City girls lost to Crestwood 57-24 in the first game of Tuesday’s DH.

The Comets (0-12, 0-6 NEIC) stayed close at the start and trailed the Cadets by just 4 (11-7) early in the second quarter.

But Crestwood went on to shut out the Comets for the remainder of the half before turning it up a notch in the second half to win going away.

One area Charles City has improved at during this season is applying full and semi-full court pressure.

Like blitzing in football, good teams will make you pay when you press them too often. Teams too often made the Comets pay when they pressed as it usually just took one well-placed long-court pass to spring easy uncontested layups.

The Comets don’t give up as many easy full-court-breaking layups as they do a better job patrolling the front court. But they do on occasion get burned by skillful open-court finishers who attack presses fearlessly and are able to score under duress

The Cadets have that type of player in Olivia Ollendick, who seemed to use every inch of the right-side glass while finishing at the hole to lead all scorers with 17 points.

Senior Janila Toney scored 6 points to earn her first distinction of leading a varsity basketball team in scoring, and Hannah Hoffman scored 5 for Charles City.

The varsity DH was a makeup from a Dec. 16, 2022 postponement.

Girls Varsity


Scoring By Quarters

CC 5 2 11 6 — 24

CW 10 14 18 15 — 57

RECORDS — Crestwood 6-7 (1-5 Northeast Iowa Conference), Charles City 0-12 (0-6)


Boys Varsity


Scoring By Quarters

CC 22 16 17 22 — 77

CW 12 12 23 16 — 53

Individual Scoring

CHARLES CITY — Jack Hanson 9, Kaden Buseman 5, Keenan Wiley 12, Chase Low 20, Kaden Kasmeier 4, Kam Mestas 19, Jeb Wandro 4, Drew Martin 4.

CRESTWOOD — Ty Cotant 8, Tristan Simiele 2, Ben Isaacson 2, Zane Wemark 10, Jackson Gaul 9, Zach Mehmert 17, Cody Fett 3.

RECORDS — Charles City 9-3 (5-1 Northeast Iowa Conference), Crestwood 10-4 (2-4)

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