Charlie Houghton’s mid-range shot — a mix of pull-up jumpers and fade-aways — has stuck out to Dirigo coach Cody St. Germain and has become a huge part of Houghton’s game. 

The 6-foot-4 junior has expanded his game out from under the hoop to the mid-range and also the 3-point shot. He can score at all three levels, but after a summer of working on the 3-ball, Houghton became too reliant on it for a bit. 

“I think I fell in love with 3s early in the season and you can ask my coach, he was asking me, ‘Why don’t you shoot the mid-range anymore,’” Houghton said. “And I completely forgot about that part of my game. Over the summer, I worked with my trainer, Brett Frey, and we worked on my 3-point shot and I started hitting that consistently and I started shooting that a lot.

“… My coach said, ‘Well, why don’t you shoot the mid-range?’ And I said, ‘Well, that’s a good point.’ I think the next game I scored like 10 points on mid-range shots and I said, ‘Maybe you were right about that.’ Now defenders have to play up on me because I can shoot from the mid-range.”

Against Carrabec in the Class C South quarterfinals, Houghton opened the game with a pair of turn-around jumpers to get the Cougars scoring en route to a 53-43 win. Now, No. 3 Dirigo (16-5) is preparing for the Class C South final against No. 5 Monmouth (13-4) on Saturday.

Dirigo’s Charlie Houghton shoots against Mt. Abram during a Class C South boys basketball semifinal Thursday at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“His touch and mid-range and 3-point line is pretty much the best I’ve seen for what we consider a big man,” St. Germain said. “I know he has a lot of guard skills, but I consider him a post man. His touch in the mid-range is the best I’ve seen.”


Houghton’s points-per-game have dipped from 20.5 a year ago to 19.4 this season, but St. Germain said it’s because of Houghton’s teammates stepping up and his own playmaking ability increasing. 

“He’s progressed a lot as a passer,” St. Germain added. “He’s always had the ability to make the really flashy pass but what we’re getting him into now is understanding that if he gets the hockey assist (the pass before the assist), then that’s just as good as a regular assist. That’s been one of the biggest things this year: His ability to get the ball to other guys in situations and score.”

This preseason, St. Germain wanted to emphasize to Houghton that passing is important and that the junior’s playmaking will be the difference in playoff wins. 

“In the first practice of the season, coach pulled me aside and said, ‘We can go .500, we’ll win the first round of the playoffs and maybe squeak by. But if you give the ball up and learn to get teammates involved, we’ll win a lot more,’” Houghton said. “He actually said he wanted me to get to the point where I’m passing too much. In the preseason games, I only had nine points and coach said, ‘All right, Charlie. You understand now.’ If we wanted to win games, that’s how we had to play.”

Teammates like Trent Holman, Trenton Hutchinson and Dakota Tompkins have all stepped up their roles in the offense and taken some of the pressure off of Houghton. 

Dirigo is a junior-laden team, with seven on the roster and just one senior. The chemistry is high, and Houghton said he trusts his teammates and the success of the team trumps all for him. 


“I kind of go out there and try to make the right play,” Houghton said. “Like coach said, getting a hockey assist or an assist, those are points too. I think I forced some shots my freshman and sophomore years. I think if you look at assists per game and count hockey assists, I’ve gotten my points up that way, too. We’ve scored the ball. Winning as a team is so much more fun because we all get to celebrate it. Trenton has improved a lot. Dakota, he’s a really good shooter. Trent is an all-around great player. Wyatt Smith is a great finisher around the rim. When we have that going and we are all going at the same time, like in the Mt. Abram game, we all clicked.”

But on Jan. 13, the Cougars were shooting poorly against Carrabec and at halftime realized that Houghton needed to use his size and be a force in the paint. 

Dirigo shot 1 for 20 from beyond the arc in the game and wanted Houghton to use his size to score and lead the team to victory, which he did with 43 points in a 58-57 win. 

“We all take over at different times,” Houghton said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well that game, we were all cold. I just realized that I needed to get inside because Carabec isn’t a tall team, so I needed to score and take over. At the end of the game, I thought I had 30 but we got to the locker room and I had 43, and I thought it was pretty crazy. It didn’t get to my head because we had another game soon. Everyone was happy for me on the team. That’s what made it awesome.”

St. Germain said Houghton has shown an ability to adapt to whatever gameplan an opponent has against him each game.

“I think it’s been a really good thing to have because he’s been able to adapt on the fly,” St. Germain said. “I told him he had to be able to do that at the beginning of the season.”


Houghton said that Holman had nine assists during Houghton’s 43-point explosion. 

Holman has averaged 4.6 assists a game, while Hutchinson has averaged 4.9. Houghton’s stat line this season is 19.4 points per game, 2.9 assists and 10.8 rebounds. 

The playoff run by the Cougars has been enjoyed by the players and coaches alike, with Houghton being the upbeat leader on the team during the season. Others, like Holman and Hutchinson, have gotten the team ready to focus when needed, but Houghton’s kept the energy light. The mixture has created a team that’s extremely close and that only wants success for each other. 

“This team is a lot of fun to be around,” St. Germain, a former Cougars player, said. “They’ve been a lot of fun since they were freshmen. They’re just a really cohesive group on and off the court. I have to rein them in sometimes because they do tend to be goofballs, but that keeps things loose as well. I think you saw that in some of these games, they didn’t necessarily come out like some teams would in the (Augusta) Civic Center. They were goofing around in the locker room, and I love that from these guys.”

The junior class has been playing together since third grade, Houghton and Hutchinson said, and the group has come a long way. 

“Dakota’s dad just posted on Facebook, pictures of us through the years and we’ve put so many hours in the gym together,” Houghton said. “We’ve gone through years together. Blood, sweat and tears. Travel league championships. We went to Zero Gravity Nationals one year, and we’ve just always played together and our coaches up through have told us no one person can win a game, we have to play together. We all take over the games at different times.”

Heading into the regional final, St. Germain is optimistic. 

“We have our eyes on the prize this year, but we have a huge junior class,” St. Germain said. “We do lose Wyatt next year, which will be huge, but the maturity people gain often between their junior year and senior year will be awesome. This year we definitely have a chance.”

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.