Lynx face potent Comet offense led by Molstead

WCHS out to pull upset; winner advances to Monday’s substate final in Mason City

WCHS senior Jordan Tanner (14) pulls up from the paint and scores during a 50-49 Class 3A substate quarterfinal win over Decorah. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — Charles City junior guard Jackson Molstead certainly has the attention of Webster City head coach Marty McKinney.

Now, whether or not McKinney can devise a defensive strategy to contain Molstead is another story altogether. But at least slowing him down will be priority No. 1 for Webster City this evening when it faces Charles City in a Class 3A Substate 2 semifinal on the Comets’ home floor at 7 p.m.

The 5-foot-11 Molstead is the complete package. He can score from the perimeter, put the ball on the deck and get to the rim and pass with the best guards in the state. Who does he remind McKinney of?


“As scary as it sounds, he’s a lot like (Clear Lake’s Zach) Lester,” McKinney said. “He’s that type of player.”

WCHS center Henry Hoversten (left) steps out and cans a short jumper during Monday’s Class 3A Substate 2 quarterfinal win over Decorah. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Lester led the North Central Conference in scoring at better than 29 points per game and ripped off 25 and 24 in two meetings against the Lynx. Molstead averages 19.1 points and also distributes 7.6 assists a night.

“He’s the real deal,” McKinney said of Molstead. “He attacks the basket and you can’t just double him because he handles the ball so well.”

But Charles City (17-4) is much more than a one-man show. Three other players score in double figures; Mike Cranshaw averages 12.1, Cade Hemesath 12.0 and Noah Schlader 10.9.

Hemesath, a 6-5 senior, missed time late in the regular season with a knee injury. He sat out the Comets’ 79-66 loss to Decorah in the final game of the regular season, but returned to put up 16 points and nine boards in their 67-56 substate quarterfinal win over Iowa Falls-Alden on Monday.

WCHS (14-8) fended off Decorah, 50-49, in its substate debut on Monday. After a sluggish first half, the Lynx put it together over the final 16 minutes at the offensive end. Cameron Moen poured in 20 points and Jordan Tanner had 14 in the win.

But McKinney says that the Lynx can’t have a lull against the Comets, otherwise it will be game over.

“In almost every game over the last five or six, we’ve had a quarter where we just haven’t been able to score points and we can’t have that (tonight),” he said. “Charles City is good enough that they’ll extend a lead on us. We’ve got to be consistent and shooting the ball is part of it. We’ve got to get good high percentage looks for everybody.”

Noah McKinney has struggled with his shot in recent games, but his uncle and head coach says he needs to continue to stroke it from the perimeter when he’s open. And 6-6 junior center Henry Hoversten needs to get plenty of touches; he took just four shots against Decorah, but scored nine points and collected 13 rebounds.

But it’s at the defensive end where WCHS needs to hang its hat. Charles City, which spent most of the season inside the Associated Press 3A Top 10, averages 64.7 points per game. If the Comets hit that tonight, McKinney says they’ll be moving on.

“Our philosophy is if we can keep it in the 40’s, we’re probably going to win,” he said. “If it gets in the 50’s, we’ve got a shot, and if it gets in the 60’s or above, we’re going to get beat.”

Tanner, the Lynx leading scorer at better than 15 points per game, will get the defensive assignment on Molstead.

Tonight’s winner will advance to the substate final on Monday in New Hampton where either Waverly-Shell Rock (16-6) or Crestwood (9-13) will await. W-SR hammered Humboldt in its substate quarterfinal, while Crestwood upset 10th-ranked Clear Lake in double-overtime despite a career-high 48 points from Lester.