Members of the George Stevens Academy boys’ basketball team pose for a photo with their Gold Ball after beating Winthrop 47-44 to win the Class C championship March 4 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. A Jarrod Chase 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left sealed Eagles’ second state consecutive state title. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY TIM SUELLENTROP/REACH MAINE MARKETING

Chase buzzer-beater gives GSA dramatic state championship win

BANGOR — With one flick of the wrist, Jarrod Chase cemented his place in Maine high school basketball lore.

Time was ticking away in a tie game in George Stevens Academy’s state championship showdown with Winthrop, and the Eagles had the ball with 18 seconds left and the game tied at 44. Just as any coach would, GSA head coach Dwayne Carter wanted the ball in the hands of one his best shooters, Chase or Taylor Schildroth.

Out of the timeout, Schildroth drove down the court. He dribbled both ways, but Winthrop had defenders everywhere. Then, the junior guard looked toward the edge of the arc. Chase was there, and he had just enough space.

Schildroth made the pass. A Winthrop defender flew to the 3-point line in an attempt to contest the shot, but Chase dribbled to the left and let it fly. From the moment the ball left the the senior sharpshooter’s hands, the trajectory was perfect.

Immediately, Chase’s teammates tackled him. Carter and assistant coach Matt Mattson beckoned for the players to get off the pile and play defense after the referees determined a bit of time had ticked off the clock after the shot went through the hoop, but there wasn’t enough of it left. The Gold Ball was going back to Blue Hill — again.

Chase’s 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left gave the GSA boys’ basketball team a 47-44 win in the Class C championship Saturday night at the Cross Insurance Center. The win marked the Eagles’ second consecutive state title and completed an undefeated season.

“I can’t even describe what it feels like,” Chase said. “That’s something that happens in a movie.”

George Stevens Academy head coach Dwayne Carter talks to his team during the final timeout of the Class C boys’ basketball championship game on March 4 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. The Eagles finished the season 22-0. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY TIM SUELLENTROP/REACH MAINE MARKETING

As was the case in its Class C North title victory against Fort Fairfield last Saturday, GSA was forced to come through late in this encounter after entering the fourth quarter without the lead. The Eagles had a difficult time breaking down Winthrop’s defense and appeared to be in serious trouble when they trailed by six late in the game.

Winthrop opened the scoring when it made a layup less than a minute into the first quarter, but a 3-pointer by Chase and two from Schildroth helped GSA (22-0) to a four-point lead minutes later. The Eagles would trail 13-11 near the end of the quarter after a brief scoring drought, but they regained the lead in wild fashion when Schildroth made an off-balance 3-pointer as time expired.

The Ramblers (21-1) followed a Schildroth layup with two baskets of their own to start the second quarter, but Schildroth quickly helped the Eagles retake the lead with another layup. After the two teams exchanged 3-pointers, Schildroth made two free throws before the Ramblers made one of their own. GSA went into halftime with a 23-21 lead after neither team scored in the last few minutes of the half.

Unfortunately for GSA, the start of the second half was not its finest. After blocking a Beckett Slayton jumper to begin the third quarter, Winthrop went on a 6-0 run before Stefan Simmons scored GSA’s first basket of the half. With Max Mattson fouling out of the game and Schildroth scoring just two points in the quarter, the Eagles entered the final period trailing 33-30.

“They really owned that third quarter,” Schildroth said. “They played really good defense, and I didn’t shoot well. We knew we didn’t want them to have that momentum carry over, and it was up to us to put a stop to it.”

Winthrop extended its lead to four points with a Cam Wood free throw to start the fourth quarter, but Chase then hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put GSA ahead 36-34 with just under six minutes to play. The Ramblers then went on an 8-0 run to take a six-point lead before Schildroth hit a pair of deep 3-pointers to tie the game at 42 with just over a minute left.

Following a layup by Winthrop, Percy Zentz missed two foul shots before getting his own rebound. The Ramblers then fouled him again, and the sophomore forward made amends by hitting both shots from the line. Winthrop called a timeout on the ensuing possession, but Schildroth got a steal off the inbound pass to give GSA an attempt at the last shot.

As soon as Schildroth made the pass and Chase released the shot, Carter threw his arms up in the air.

“When it left Jarrod’s hand, I knew it was going in,” Carter said. “I’ve seen [him do that] enough.”

Chase wasn’t immediately aware that 1.2 seconds had been added back on. With the buzzer having sounded and his teammates on top of him, though, it was hard to blame him for thinking it was over.

In essence, it was. When the players cleared the court to allow the game to resume, the Ramblers could barely get a handle on the ball and were forced to release a full-court shot that fell nearly 10 feet short of the basket. It was a shot that was doomed from the start, and it was a mere footnote to a game everyone in the Cross Center realized was over with Chase’s 3-pointer.

Chase didn’t have to wait for that, either. When he turned to Schildroth after the ball sank through the nylon, reality set in.

“I looked over to Taylor, and he had his arms up and was staring at me with a ghost-faced look,” Chase said. “That’s when I said to myself, ‘Wow, that really just happened to me.’”

Schildroth led GSA with 23 points as Chase scored 16, Simmons added six and Slayton provided the remaining two. Senior Jacob Hickey had 13 points for Winthrop, and Wood and Garrett Tsouprake added 11 each.

When the ladders came out and the team got ready to cut down the nets, Chase did the honors. He waved one in his right hand while holding up the No. 1 sign in his left. By the time the GSA fans made their way to the court to greet their champions, he had traded his prize to Simmons for the Gold Ball.

The scene soon died down a bit, but Chase and his teammates were still there. Carter stood to the side in shock as the Eagles continued to celebrate. Over near the bench was Chase, who was taking photos with his friends and family as his shiny braces gleaned off his team’s newest trophy.

“I got to finish my career here with this in my hands,” Chase said. “This is what every kid dreams about, and I got to live that dream.”

The GSA bench celebrates after Percy Zentz ties the game at 44 with two free throws with 47 seconds left in the Class C boys’ basketball championship game on March 4 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY TIM SUELLENTROP/REACH MAINE MARKETING
Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.