CHARLES CITY | Charles City junior Jackson Molstead slices left and right through a crowd of defenders, sending senior Cade Hemesath a quick bounce.
Hemesath does what a post does best: dribble once, then bounce it off the backboard for an easy shot. Standing at 6-foot-5, Hemesath is an obvious target.
But what happens when that target limps off the court in the third quarter in a rivalry game?
“He’s our second-leading scorer and leading rebounder, so when we have somebody like that that’s out, it takes a toll, “ Charles City head coach Ben Klapperich said. “In the first half, we were getting a lot of dribble-drive kicks and that’s when our team was most successful. The second half we were looking to drive first and kick second, we’ve got to look to kick first.”
Unfortunately, the Comets fell short against Waverly-Shell Rock 62-57.
Yet the fourth-quarter battle still came down to the final seconds.
Molstead launched a 3 with 4.8 seconds left, keeping the Comets alive down 60-57. The Go-Hawks drove down court and the Comets would send senior Jordan Downing to the line with 3.6 seconds left.
The Comets' crowd held its breath, watching as Downing missed the first free throw. But when he missed the second, the crowd went wild. Surely a buzzer-beating 3 was written in the stars. Take it to overtime!
“These are the kind of games that you want to play in,” Waverly Shell-Rock head coach Nate Steele said. “This is why you play high school sports. No one wants to come out and hear the crickets chirping.”
Molstead was back at it, looking for an open shooter, but he’d take his turn at the line with 1.9 seconds left.
The Go-Hawks student section clapped, “OVER-RATED!”
And he’d miss the shot, but the second was aimed for a rebound-then-3.
But 6-foot-6 go-hawk junior Mosai Newsom would grab it and make both his free throws shortly after to go up 62-57.
Contrary to the student section’s chant, Molstead wasn’t overrated. He knocked in 21 points for the Comets, while aiding in his teammates’ performances. Senior Noah Schlader had 12 points, while Mike Cranshaw had 11. Sophomore Bradley Andrews finished with a team-high three 3-pointers for nine points.
“Little upset I couldn’t make those free throws at the end, next time got to be better,” Molstead said. “I try to play as a true point guard, I’ll take the shots when I’m open, but I’m trying to get it to my teammates. We’ve got some great shot-makers.”
But Molstead couldn’t be too upset with the loss as he knows where his team is headed.
“State championship, this is the one on our schedule where we’re probably going to have to play these guys again,” Molstead said.