Wolves defeat Comets 73-56 in substate final, advance to state
By John Burbridge
WATERLOO — Much of the Charles City student section wasn’t near floor level as it normally is, rather relegated to the upper tier of Waterloo East’s competition gymnasium during Monday’s Class 3A-Substate final between the Comets and bracket top-seed Marion.
But they were up-close-and-personal after their team lost to the Wolves 73-56, offering hugs as the players exited the locker room, in some cases giving a shoulder to cry on … even handing out extra packaged condiments for their sandwiches to eat during the long bus drive back home.
For the third time in the last six years, the Comets have advanced as far as the substate final with a chance to quell a state tournament-appearance drought dating back to 1956.
Charles City was amidst playing its best basketball during the right time of the season — at substate. And during much of the first half against the No. 4-ranked Wolves, the Comets comported themselves as the best team on the floor.
The Comets jumped out to a 10-4 lead in the first quarter and continued to take it right at the favored Wolves, be it finding open looks in the half court and taking full advantage of transition opportunities.
On the defensive end of the floor, the Comets clearly frustrated the Wolves, forcing repeated off-balanced forays into the paint and off-the-mark shots from the outside.
But one thing Marion did do well while they were struggling offensively was retrieve its missed shots. A surefire way to cure a team of cold shooting is to give it multiple-shot possessions to find its range.
Wolve senior guard Brayson Laube eventually found his range as he scored a game-high 37 points which included six 3-point field goals. His second trey gave the Wolves their first lead of the game (22-21) with 3:36 left in the first half.
Marion (19-5) would never trail again.
“He was a buzzsaw,” Charles City head coach Ben Klapperich said of Laube. “We placed our best defender on him … tried to make some adjustments in slowing him down. You’ve got to give him credit, he’s a heck of a player.”
Klapperich also gave credit to his departing seniors, who helped set the example and tone in making this Comet team one of the more entertaining if not one of the best he’s coached at Charles City.
“If they can put in the effort they did with this team, they’ll be successful in their lives,” he said.
Playing his last basketball game as a Comet, Brennan Schmidt scored a team-high 16 points which included four 3-pointers.
Juniors Kam Mestas and Keenan Wiley each scored 10, and senior Chase Low — who scored his 1,000th point earlier this season — capped his final career total with 8 for the Comets (17-6).
Charles City’s above-the-rim scorers — Low, Mestas and Wiley — are very active on both ends of the floor, aggressively driving to the basket, crashing the boards and going all-out for loose balls. Problem is that sometimes this results in foul trouble, something that often plagued Charles City’s “Big Three” during the season.
Such was the case during the substate final as Wiley fouled out with 3:53 left in regulation with Charles City still hanging around after having just cut a 16-point deficit to single digits.
Though Low, Schmidt, Steve Cotton, Drew Martin, Joel Villagomez and Logan Friest are departing; the Comets have Mestas, Wiley, starting point guard Jack Hanson who had 8 points against the Wolves, and long-range threat Jeb Wandro due to be back.
And Klapperich says he plans to be back.
“I just told our players that they’re the reason why I’m still here,” he said.
Class 3A-Substate 4 Championship Game
MARION 73, CHARLES CITY 56
Scoring By Quarters
CHARLES CITY 12 16 16 12 — 56
MARION 12 19 21 21 — 73
CHARLES CITY — Jack Hanson 8, Brennan Schmidt 16, Keenan Wiley 10, Chase Low 8, Kayden Kasemeier 2, Kam Mestas 10, Jeb Wandro 2.
MARION — Brayson Laube 37, Myles Davis 11, Jordan Fischer 5, Trey Franck 2, Payton Hodges 5, Josh Noll 2, Alex Mota 6, Calen Claypool 4.
RECORDS — Marion 19-5, Charles City 17-6