AUGUSTA — Charlie Houghton couldn’t find the bottom of the hoop in the first quarter of Saturday’s Class C boys basketball state championship, but he did in the game’s final second.

Houghton’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer gave the Cougars a 59-56 victory over Dexter at Augusta Civic Center, capping off a comeback from 13 points down in the fourth quarter.

“Score the ball,” Houghton said was the thought going through his head when he took the game-winning shot. “Just score the ball. And that’s what we needed to do to win the game, and it ended up happening.”

Dirigo’s play call out of a timeout with 8.3 seconds left wasn’t for a Houghton 3-pointer.

“We were trying to get the ball to Charlie inside early on, and (Trenton Hutchinson) kind of had a lane to the hoop to attack, and I think got blocked on it, got that rebound,” Dirigo coach Cody St. Germain said. “And I saw Charlie’s eyes go up at the scoreboard, and I had a pretty good feeling that we were going to put the ball in the hoop right there. And as it went in, it looked good. I mean, I’ve seen him take a lot of tough shots over the season, and I wasn’t always happy with some of them, with the shot selection, but I was certainly happy with the outcome on that one.”

The state title is Dirigo’s fourth state, and its first since 2012 — when St. Germain was a senior.


“You know, me and (assistant coach Josh) Turbide talked about that before the game a little bit. It’s just completely different (to win as a player than as a coach),” St. Germain said. “Obviously, winning as a player, I’ve formed a lot of bonds that I’ll carry forever and it was an awesome feeling. And this, right now, in the moment, feels even better. I mean, it’s awesome to have it happen both ways, and just can’t believe the resiliency that these guys showed to pull it off in the end.”


Dirigo (18-5) got off to a slow start, falling behind 8-2 while struggling to find any breathing room on offense against Dexter’s defense. Dakota Tompkins’ 3-pointer nearly five minutes into the first quarter was the Cougars’ first field goal and it cut the deficit to 8-5.

Trent Holman later hit another 3 for the Cougars, but they trailed the Tigers 12-8 after one quarter, thanks to Avery Gagnon’s six points for Dexter (16-6).

Dirigo slowed down Dexter’s precision passing in the second quarter, creating turnovers that the Cougars turned into easier points. Nathaniel Wainwright’s steal and layup 40 seconds in cut the Tigers’ lead to 12-10.

After a Seth Robbins 3, which put all five Dexter starters on the scoresheet, Houghton converted a traditional three-point play for Dirigo — his first points of the game — and Bode Gray finished a Trenton Hutchinson assist to tie the game 15-15.


A Hutchinson transition layup three minutes into the quarter gave Dirigo its first lead of the game, 17-15. Another Tompkins’ 3-pointer a minute and a half later gave Dirigo a 22-19 advantage, but Dexter closed on a 6-2 run to take a 25-24 lead into halftime.

Gagnon was up to 16 points at the intermission, leading all scorers, while Dirigo’s first-half scoring was more balanced: Tompkins had six, and Holman and Houghton each had five.

“We always just play the first half to get to the second half. And we try to win the third quarter,” Dexter coach Peter Murray said. “We knew if we won the third quarter, we’d have a lead going into the fourth, we’d feel pretty good about that. We just didn’t make enough right plays at the end to get it done.”

Dexter drained five 3s in the third quarter, including two from Gagnon, and took a 43-33 lead into the fourth.

Will Kusnierz opened the final frame with a three-point play to make it a 13-point advantage for the Tigers. But Murray lamented missed free throws and some other mistakes at the end that allowed the Cougars back into it.

St. Germain said it took “a lot of determination, a little bit of luck and some really good shot-making” to complete the comeback.


Houghton said rally took “grit.”

“We have a lot of grit,” Houghton said. “We’ve came back from bigger deficits in our life. We’ve been playing with each other since second grade. We have each other’s backs and that’s what we need to win big games like this as a team, and we all just come together at the right time, it seems.”

The Cougars clawed back, and it took Houghton, Dirigo’s tallest player, making big play after big play. The junior scored 14 of his team-high 21 points in the final period.

“We have a lot of guys that kind of seem to live for that moment. Whether it be in practice or in games, they seem to always want to have the ball in their hands. And Charlie especially,” St. Germain said. “Any time we need a bucket in practice or in a game, he’s made some big shots throughout the year. He just kind of has that clutch gene, I think, where he knows how to get it done in crunch time.”

Houghton deflected some spotlight that was on him, saying all the players flipped the switch in the fourth quarter.

Gagnon finished with a game-high 27 points for Dexter, while Kusnierz scored seven of his 12 in the fourth.


“(Gagnon) had a career game, and we needed him tonight because they were focused on Will. They’re going to take Will away and Avery stepped up big,” Murray said. “I mean, he’s capable of doing that, and he rose to the occasion in the big moment.”

So, too, did Houghton.

“You know, I came off the bench (after the last timeout) and I knew that wasn’t the play, but I had faith in my teammate Chuck. I know he’s born for those moments,” Wyatt Smith, Dirigo’s only senior, said. “And I heard from (Kusnierz), their best player, that, ‘Why are we letting him shoot?’ And that’s exactly what I think, ‘Why are they letting him shoot?’ He deserved that shot, and he made it, and he produced.”


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