BANGOR – With under 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter, George Stevens Academy’s Jarrod Chase and the Eagles found themselves tied 44-44 against the Winthrop Ramblers in the Class C state championship. The senior captain told his coach he wanted the ball in the final seconds.
“I knew I wanted the last shot,” said Chase after the game. “I was ready for it, and it felt good out of my hand.”
That shot clinched the 47-44 victory, as Winthrop had to throw up a prayer as time expired. The win was the second gold ball in as many years for the Eagles, who added the school’s first gold ball in 10 years to the trophy case last season.
“It couldn’t have happened to a better kid,” said head coach Dwayne Carter of Chase’s game-winner. “I knew it was in as soon as it left his hand.”
The Eagles were down by two with just over 50 seconds to go when sophomore Percy Zentz drew a foul on a layup attempt, putting him at the line for two shots. He missed both, but was able to grab a crucial offensive rebound off the second miss to put up another layup attempt, getting to the line for two more from the stripe. This time he sunk them both, tying the game up at 44-44 with 47 seconds on the clock.
The George Stevens Academy crowd, which had been in rocking form all night, erupted, with chants of “defense!” booming from the student section as Winthrop brought up the ball on offense. Suffocating defense by the Eagles pinned one of the Winthrop guards into a corner at half court. The Vikings player attempted to throw the ball off of defender Taylor Schildroth to get an out of bounds call, but Schildroth made one of the most athletic plays of the season, tipping the ball and then throwing it off the Winthrop player in midair to force the turnover with 18.9 seconds left on the clock.
“Taylor made an amazing play,” said Chase. “That was probably one of the biggest plays of the game right there.”
The game had nine lead changes and three ties, indicative of a game between two first-place, undefeated teams. The added pressure of playing without junior center Max Mattson for half of the second quarter and most of the second half after fouling out with one minute left in the third quarter, was a challenge for the Eagles, who had not played from behind in most of their regular season and tournament games. Because of the foul trouble, Carter said it took the entire team to get the win.
“We knew it would take everyone [coming into the game],” said Carter. “The younger kids just believed in our team and we all came together and pulled it out.”
Chase stepped up in the fourth quarter, knocking down three three-pointers for nine of his 16 points, 15 of which came from behind the arc. He also contributed seven rebounds and two steals.
For Carter, the championship could not have come in a better way for his team, which finished the season with a 22-0 record.
“In a way, this game, coming from behind late in the fourth quarter and Jarrod hitting almost a buzzer beater to end the game, it couldn’t have been any sweeter,” he said.
Schildroth finished with 25 points and seven boards, while Stefan Simmons tacked on six points and five rebounds.
There is a celebratory reception scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, March 5 in the George Stevens Academy cafeteria.