The year was 1972, three years after the Caribou Vikings boys won the state title against Westbrook 65-63 on Mike Thurston’s two-handed set shot from a few feet behind half-court. Almost every high school basketball fan of that era remembers that game and that shot. The 6th-seeded Hodgdon Hawks played the 3rd-seeded Washington Academy Raiders in the first game of the tournament on Tuesday, February 22. The game was scheduled for 9:00 A.M., but there was quite a snowstorm that morning. The game may have started a bit later, but it was still earlier than my team had ever played a basketball game and it was the first time for any of us to play at the Bangor Auditorium. What a weird feeling to be on that huge court at that hour of the day. I remember it as somewhat of an out-of-a-body experience. The Hawks couldn’t do anything right and we fell behind 12-2 and 19-4. Eventually we settled down and slowly clawed our way back into the game, but never tied the score or took the lead until with 3 seconds left in the game, Hodgdon’s Don Heath went to the foul line and made two shots to put us ahead 61-60. At that point we knew we were going to win the game and how excited we were, as were our fans! I believe some of them even rushed onto the court to congratulate us. But, alas, there were still 3 seconds yet to play. The Raiders took the ball out from under our basket. I don’t know for sure what all took place during those 3 seconds, but what I do know is that Washington Academy’s Ed Longfellow heaved up a shot from behind half-court and the ball went through, nothing but net! When Mike Thurston took his winning shot, the score was tied. Ed Longfellow rescued his team from what most of us thought was a sure loss. Oh, yes, Mr. Longfellow had taken ten other shots earlier in the game, but this was the only one he made! It has been 41 years since that fateful day and I have pretty much reached the point of being able to think back on that game without emotion, but during most of those four plus decades, I would get all wrought-up as I reminisced about that game. High school basketball in Maine is mighty important, but it won’t matter in eternity so maybe we ought to keep that in mind.
A Thurston-like Shot, Maybe even Better!