On Friday night in a packed Beardsley Gym, Maine South seemed to have secured a two-point win. But ETHS freshman Blake Peters had another ending in mind.
In the pregame shootaround, both Maine South and Evanston honored the memory of Thomas Gardiner, the father of Hawks’ senior big man Tommy Gardiner and the uncle of Junior forward John Gardiner.
Each team took the floor with shirts that honored Thomas, who had been in a fatal car accident on Jan. 15.
Maine South’s shooting shirts were black and featured the words “Bigger Than Basketball” in white letters on the front. On the back was a red number 22, Tommy’s number, and the word “Family” where a player’s last name usually appears on a jersey, again in white lettering.
Evanston’s warmup shirt was green, because of the Gardiner family’s proud Irish heritage and read “Hawks Fly Together” in white type on the front. The shirts also had the initials “TG” written on the sleeve.
In a game that was featured as WCIU’s “Game of the Week,” 13 ranked Evanston and 24 ranked Maine South, according to Mike O’Brien’s latest Chicago-area Super 25 basketball rankings, did not disappoint. The game was close throughout, with neither team leading by more than six at any point. As time ran off the clock in the final quarter, the Hawks grabbed a 43-42 lead with 11 seconds remaining.
After a miss at the free throw line by Maine South, the Kits got the rebound and the ball found its way into Peters’ hands. He took a few dribbles to corral it and get across the half-court line on the right side of the floor. He then picked up his dribble and looked to pass. Two Hawks came in to double-team the freshman and he tried to make a desperate pass.
The ball was intercepted by the Hawks’ Michael George and he tried to evade Evanston defenders to end the game. But ETHS fouled him with 2.6 seconds on the clock.
George stepped calmly to the line and nailed the first free throw. 44-42.
After a Maine South timeout, George stood at the line one more time. When he let the ball go, it looked as if it would find the bottom of the net and make the margin three. But the ball rimmed out.
Peters grabbed the rebound and dribbled once to gain momentum. Then, with just about 1 second left, he heaved the ball nearly 80 feet, letting go at the Hawks free-throw line. The ball almost touched the ceiling of the Gym as the buzzer sounded. The shot, which had been a little off to the left when Peters let it go, miraculously began slicing back to the right. The ball reached the basket and fell through the left side of the net. 45-44.
The play almost instantly became an internet sensation. Various videos of the play made appearances on popular social media accounts including @Houseofhighlights, @Greatesthighlights, @Sportsillustrated and @Sportscenter. And with the help of ESPN employee and ETHS alum Cassidy Hubbarth, the shot also reached number one on Sportscenter’s top 10 plays.
@ETHSports’s original video of the shot now has over 1 million views on Twitter
With the dramatic win, Evanston improved to 15-4 and 6-1 in the CSL South, to remain in first place in the conference.
Meanwhile, Maine South dropped to 14-6 and 3-3 in league play.