DENVER — Charles City and Waverly-Shell Rock are no strangers on the boys’ basketball court. In fact, they’ve been fierce rivals.

Monday night, the stakes were high as the Comets and Go-Hawks, who split two four-point games during the regular season, squared off with a berth in the Class 3A state tournament on the line.

Charles City (18-5) held strong for the better part of three quarters before Waverly-Shell Rock (18-6) drained 13 free throws over the final six minutes for a 55-43 victory.

“”I thought we would have the same type of game as the first two,” Go-Hawks coach Nate Steege said. “The difference would be if we could control the fourth quarter, then that would give us a great chance.”

Ironically, it was a four-point game at halftime with W-SR up 21-17.

The Go-Hawks led 36-28 after three quarters. Charles City was within 43-39 early in the fourth quarter, but W-SR finished on a 12-4 run.

“I give a lot of credit to our kids because when they needed to make a play they did it, especially Luke (Velky),” Steege said. “He is a tough kid and he made as many plays on defense as he did on offense.”

Velky was held to just three points over the first 16 minutes, then exploded in the second half to finish with 19 points, including 10 over the final six minutes.

“Each team won a game during the year and this was the rub game, and a chance to go to state,” said Velky. “We wanted this one bad and I think they got a little tired late and we just kept hitting.

“We went to a different offensive style after the half. It worked well and we started hitting our shots and really got things going. When the subs started to come into the game that is when it hit me that we were heading to state. It is a great feeling.”

Charles City coach Ben Klapperich credited the W-SR defense.

“I think in the second half, well actually the whole game, they forced our kids to drive the basketball instead of taking our 3-point shots,” he said. “We like to take the 3s during the game, but they held us to just one.

“They were really physical with our guards and when we did get our shots off they just were not falling. We usually hit 75-80 percent but tonight was a tough night.

“We have worked so hard to get Charles City basketball back on the map and these kids are a big reason we have been successful. They battled to the end and I am very proud of all of them.”

Waverly-S.R. 55, Chas. City 43

CHARLES CITY(18-5) — Jack Molstead 4 5-5 14, Mike Cranshaw 52-3 12, Cade Hemesath 2 4-11 8, Noah Schlader 2 0-0 4, Bradley Andrews 0 3-4 3, Colton Slinger 0 0-0 0, Marcus Cranshaw 0 0-0 0, Hakeem Sharief 1 0-1 2, Tyreque Baker 0 0-0 0, Carter Klatt 0 0-0 0, Nolan Loftus 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 14-24 43.

WAVERLY-SHELL ROCK (18-6) — Luke Velky 6 6-10 19, Jack Seward 5 0-0 12, Mosai Newsom 1 1-2 3, Jacob Bahe 5 0-0 10, Braden Holmquist 0 2-2 2, Trey Angel 1 0-4 3, Jordan Downing 0 6-6 6, Josh Halverson 0 0-0 0, Carson Kallenberger 0 0-0 0, Ethan Reichert 0 0-0 0, William Dunn 0 0-0 0 , Brandon Hinders 0 0-0 0, Jedd Paulsen 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 15-24 55.

Charles City 10 7 11 15 — 43

Waverly-S.R. 8 13 15 19 — 55

3-point goals — Charles City 1 (Molstead), W-SR 4 (Seward 2, Velky, Angel). Total fouls — Charles City 22, W-SR 21. Fouled out—Schlader, Mi. Crenshaw Seward.