It was the shot of a lifetime, and Milton Pope eighth grade basketball player Cooper Thorson still can’t believe it went in.
“Best night of my life,” he said during his lunch hour Wednesday, less than 20 hours after his game-winning, full-court basket scored the win for the Pilots and became a national jaw-dropper.
After a dramatic comeback from a double-digit deficit brought them within striking range, Thorson and his Milton Pope teammates found themselves down by a single point – 32-31 with 3.1 seconds remaining – Tuesday night against Marseilles in Milton Pope’s cozy gym located a handful of miles north of the nearby towns of Marseilles and Seneca, just north of Interstate 80.
Marseilles missed a free throw. Thorson boxed out his Marseilles counterpart and cut forward into the lane, jumping and bringing down the rebound. The left-hander took one quick dribble to his left and a large step as he wound up for a left-handed, scoop-shot heave almost the length of the court.
From the volleyball endline about 75 feet from the basket, Thorson’s desperation shot found nothing but net.
The crowd – and Thorson – understandably went wild.
“I wasn’t really expecting it. That [rebound] just came my way,” Thorson said. “I felt blessed. It just came right to me. And when I shot that ... I did not think I was gonna make it, and it just went in, and I fell to the ground out of excitement.
“Before I shot it, I was like, ‘Yep, Marseilles won. That’s game.’ But then it just went in, and everyone went crazy.”
Thorson said he practices long-range shots from time to time, but nothing like Tuesday night’s viral game-winner.
“Not quite that far,” he said. “From like half court, but nothing that far, especially in that type of game. No, I’ve never done anything like that.”
By noon Wednesday, the 30-second video on YouTube had received almost 5,000 views. One of those views, in fact, was a teacher at Milton Pope breaking it down with Thorson and the rest of the class.
It also took the No. 1 spot on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top Ten.
“My dad let everybody know, and my phone has just been blowing up,” Thorson said. “I’ve just been really excited to have big news networks [interested]. I’m on ESPN. It’s just something really cool. I never dreamed for it to happen.
“I woke up and I was like, ‘I really just did that.’
“It was amazing.”