September 23, 2018
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30 years later, Tim Scott’s ‘miracle minute’ still resonates as one of greatest finishes in tourney history

Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Tim Scott (right) is pictured coaching the Hampden Academy girls basketball team in January 2017. Monday, Feb. 19, is the 30th anniversary of the "Miracle Minute" during which Scott scored 13 points to spark Ellsworth High School past Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln in the Eastern Maine Class B championship game at the Bangor Auditorium.
By Tom Field, Special to the BDN
Updated:

Monday is the 30th anniversary of Tim Scott’s “Miracle Minute” at the Bangor Auditorium.

February 19 was a Friday night in 1988 when the Ellsworth High School senior — the youngest son of Maine Basketball Hall of Famer Jack Scott — scored 13 points in one minute of play to lead his fourth-seeded Eagles from an 11-point deficit to a 65-64 win over third-seeded Mattanawcook Academy in final two minutes of the Eastern Maine Class B boys basketball championship game.

Looking back, two “miracles” emerge from that dramatic finish: 1. That any player could score 13 points in only a minute, and 2. That Scott didn’t take the final shot. Instead he passed to senior forward Jason Sattler, who powered home a layup for the win.

Ellsworth went on to lose to Cape Elizabeth,70-54 in the Class B state championship.

But when the old Bangor Auditorium was demolished in 2013, the “Miracle Minute” remained one of the Maine Mecca’s great legends.

Scott, Sattler and former Ellsworth coach Jim Mitchell each clearly recall that wild night.

How it Happened

Mattanawcook and Ellsworth entered the 1988 tournament with identical 13-5 records. But the Eagles swaggered into the final, having knocked off top-seeded Hermon 63-58 in the semifinals.

That confidence lasted until MA built an 18-point halftime lead.

“They were a very good team and playing well, and obviously we struggled a bit on both ends of the floor,” recalls Scott, 49, who now runs a landscaping business with his brother Mike.

“I remember thinking ‘We’re going to lose,” says Sattler, 47, now a Maine State Police sergeant.

But Ellsworth made defensive adjustments at halftime, and with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter, MA’s lead was trimmed to 61-50. Then Scott sparked the rally.

Here’s how the “Miracle Minute” unfolded:

  • 2:00 — Scott scores a layup off a steal by Sattler. MA leads 61-52.
  • 1:51 — Scott fouls MA’s Rick Budge, who goes to the line for 1-and-1. He misses; Sattler rebounds, outlets to Scott, who scores his first 3-pointer. MA leads 61-55.
  • 1:36 — Ellsworth’s Earl Awalt fouls Budge, who goes back to the line for 1-and-1. He misses. Scott goes the length of the court for his second 3-pointer. MA leads 61-58.
  • 1:27 — MA calls timeout. Back in play, Awalt fouls MA’s Mike Williams, who is 4-for-4 from the foul line. He makes both shots. MA leads 63-58.
  • 1:16 — Scott nails his third straight 3-pointer, cutting MA’s lead to two, 63-61
  • 1:02 — Scott steals the ball at midcourt and lays it in, tying the score at 63.

With 45 seconds left, MA called timeout. The momentum shift was tangible in the gym.

“You could feel the momentum,” says Sattler. “My brother [Chad] was on the team … he kept patting me on the back and saying ‘We’re going to do this!’”

In the Ellsworth huddle, coach Mitchell had a plan.

“I said to the boys: We’re going to foul, because we want the ball back, and we’re going to beat these guys,” recalls Mitchell, 56, who today heads one of Maine’s leading lobbyist firms, Mitchell Tardy Jackson.

The only player to avoid was MA’s Williams, who hadn’t missed a shot.

“I said, ‘foul anybody else but him.’”

But with 19 seconds left, Ellsworth’s Troy Brown fouled Williams. The first shot went around the rim and in, giving MA a 64-63 lead. The second bounced out. Brown rebounded and passed to Scott.

Most observers thought Scott would take the final shot.

“But with two guys coming at me, I knew someone else had to be open,” Scott says.

That someone was Sattler, who was left unguarded. Scott passed to Sattler, whose layup with five seconds remaining gave Ellsworth a 65-64 lead.

MA called timeout one second later and then Williams missed a long shot at the buzzer.

Teammates and fans pig-piled on Scott to celebrate Ellsworth’s biggest basketball win since its 1966 state championship. Over the next week, scores of Ellsworth youngsters got crewcuts to emulate Scott’s “Timmy-do.”

What it Meant

Soon after the 1988 season ended, Mitchell resigned to follow his real passion — politics. He quickly rose to be a Maine political leader. Today, he minimizes his role in the “Miracle Minute.”

“There was no coaching there,” Mitchell says. “It was all about [Scott] taking control.”

Mitchell praises Scott’s athletic prowess.

“He played like a great athlete would play — not by a system, but by his own instincts,” Mitchell says. “He was a consummate winner.”

For Scott, the game capped a stellar high school career. He scored a school-record 1,831 points, and Ellsworth High School retired his No. 24. He was Maine’s top boys player in 1988, but baseball was his real passion, and he went on to play for coach John Winkin at the University of Maine.

Scott was drafted by Colorado Rockies and played in the minors. He returned to Maine and coached basketball for 20 years, most recently with the Hampden Academy varsity girls.

His lasting memory of the “Miracle Minute?”

“Chaos,” Scott says. “One side of the crowd got real quiet, and the other side got real loud.”

These days, Scott is content to enjoy his daughter’s senior year at Hampden. He rarely discusses his past accomplishments with his two children, but he is used to annual “Miracle Minute” revivals.

“It’s come up [in conversation] every February for the past 30 years,” he laughs.

Sattler, who still lives in Hancock County, is amused by the attention.

“It’s been 30 years, right? It doesn’t matter,” he says. “There are people I’ll introduce myself to as a trooper, and they’ll say ‘Oh, you’re Sattler — you’re the guy who made that shot!’ I cannot believe that people even remember that.

“Basketball is king in Down East Maine.”

Tom Field covered the “Miracle Minute” as Sports Editor of The Ellsworth American in 1988. Today he lives in Exeter, N.H., and is writing a book about the 1978 New England Champion Cony High School Rams boys basketball team.


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