Charles City defeats Mount Vernon, faces Marion on Monday for State berth

Charles City junior Kam Mestas (13) drives to the basket Thursday night at home against Mount Vernon. (Chris Baldus photo)

The 10-point lead Charles City held about halfway through the 4th quarter had evaporated. With 1:27 left, it was a 4-point game and Mount Vernon was racing toward a breakaway basket.

Enter Comet Brennan Schmidt lunging from behind and knocking the ball loose to teammate Chase Low. He fires it ahead for a Kam Mestas dunk.

Comet Gym shook as fans leapt to their feet.

It was a key play in a game full of them, such as Jack Hanson netting a pair of free throws with 6.8 seconds left when his Comets were clinging to a 62-61 lead.

Charles City (17-5) went on to win the Class 3A Substate 4 playoff game, 64-61, and will take on Marion (18-5) at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, at Waterloo East High School.

Mestas led all scorers with 23 points. He drove inside for 11 buckets and sank 1 free throw.

Keenan Wiley had 14 points for the Comets, followed by Low with 11, Hanson with 9, and Schmidt with 7.

Schmidt hit two 3-pointers. Hansen got 1. They sank back-to-back 3-pointers in the second quarter to give Charles City the lead. By halftime, the Comets expanded it to 30-24.

Mount Vernon, however, sank eight 3-pointers to stay in the game. The Mustangs leading scorer was Joe Rhomberg with 16 points. He hit four 3-pointers.