Dirigo’s Charlie Houghton takes a shot during the Class C state championship in Augusta on March 5. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Charlie Houghton proved right away that he could score for the Dirigo boys basketball team, averaging 15.5 points per game his freshman season.

Leading into his junior season in 2021-22, Houghton worked on adding the 3-point shot to his repertoire, and he admitted during the playoff run that he relied on that newly added shot too much at times.

That shot, however, won Dirigo the Class C state championship on March 5 in a game that became an instant classic. Houghton’s buzzer-beating 3 was the difference in the Cougars’ 59-56 win over Dexter.

Dirigo inbounded the ball out of a timeout with 8.3 seconds from the sideline near its own bench. Houghton made his way from near midcourt down into the lane and to the corner, where he received a short pass from Trenton Hutchinson, whose drive to the basket was blocked by multiple Dexter defenders. Houghton then dribbled the ball from the corner to the wing, where he lifted off and arced a shot through the twine as the Dirigo bench and fans behind him erupted in elation.

It took a double-digit rally for Dirigo to even get a chance for Houghton’s game-winner. The Cougars trailed Dexter by 10 going into the fourth quarter, and the Tigers quickly made it a 13-point deficit.

The Cougars leaned on their defense to get back into the game, clamping down on Dexter shooters who had made five 3s in the third quarter and also forcing the Tigers into turnovers.


It was a similar formula to what Dirigo used in another double-digit rally a week earlier against Monmouth to win the Class C South final. The Cougars trailed that game 35-26 after three quarters, and it was a 37-27 Mustangs advantage when Dirigo went on a 12-0 run to take the lead.

The team’s only senior, Wyatt Smith, made a key steal with just over a minute left and Dirigo leading by two. He turned that pick-pocket into an assist that gave the Cougars a four-point advantage.

Smith made some more important non-scoring plays during the second half of the state championship game against Dexter. He also converted the game-tying free throw, bouncing back after missing the first attempt, to tie the game 56-56.

Smith was tasked by head coach Cody St. Germain — who was a senior on Dirigo’s previous state championship team in 2012 — with helping guide a junior-heavy Cougars roster. That included Trenton Hutchinson, who scored a team-high 24 points in the quarterfinal win over Carrabec, and Dakota Tompkins, who paced the Cougars with 15 points in a semifinal romp of Mt. Abram. Trent Holman was another key junior, with scorebook-filling averages of six points, five assists, five rebounds and three steals per game.

If and when there a go-to scorer was needed, though, it was Houghton, who averaged a team-leading 19 points per game. He also broke a Dirigo regular-season record with 43 points the first time the Cougars faced Carrabec.

In the state championship game, he scored 14 of his team-high 21 points in the fourth.


St. Germain said after the state championship win that Houghton has the clutch gene and he lives for those moments. Smith went a step further and said Houghton was born for those moments.

The player that teammates call “Chuck” knew just what to do with the gold ball in the balance: Do as his nickname suggests, and chuck up a shot. The big man with the smooth stroke dropped the ball through the hoop to lift Dirigo back to the top for the first time in a decade.

It was a shot that was honed in the offseason and that will be talked about for generations.

Editor’s note: The top 10 area sports stories of 2022 were voted on by the Sun Journal sports staff.

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