A story 50 years in the making took eight extra minutes to produce the finish desired by generations of Caribou High basketball fans.

Caribou’s boys’ basketball team won its first state championship since 1969, beating Cape Elizabeth, 49-47 in double overtime in the Class B final Saturday at Cross Insurance Arena.

Caribou’s only previous state championship was the 1969 Class LL title, on a half-court shot at the buzzer by Mike Thurston. Thurston and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Caribou native, were among the fans cheering for a second title. Many had traveled five hours from their Aroostook County homes.

“This is like a story for us,” said Caribou Coach Kyle Corrigan, a 2008 graduate of Caribou. “You look back at that Mike Thurston shot, and they said 50 years from now they’d be marking that spot on the floor. It’s been 50 years, and the boys got it done.”

Caribou finished with a 19-3 record. Cape Elizabeth ended at 14-8, after a 2-5 start.

Caribou nearly had another magical finish at the end of regulation. After Cape stole an inbounds pass with 7.7 seconds left with the score tied 42-42, Parker Deprey stole it right back, dribbled into the front court and got off a 3-pointer that just missed.

“I dropped to my knees because it felt so good, I could have sworn it was going in,” Deprey said. “That would have been the one to end it on, to repeat the final of 50 years ago, but we’re just happy we (won).”

“I thought Parker’s shot was going in and we were going to have a new Mike Thurston,” Corrigan said.

Cape Elizabeth’s Quinton Morse tied the game at 47 with a runner in traffic with five seconds to play in the first overtime.

Caribou had chances to pull away in the second overtime. Cape’s 6-foot-9 center, Andrew Hartel, who battled through double teams for 18 points and 15 rebounds, fouled out with 3:17 remaining. But Caribou missed four of six free throws.

“We were extremely nervous coming out here. We had a bunch of weight on our shoulders. A 50-year drought is huge, but we came in here, and after the first half we got into it. Then in overtime, the nerves kicked right back in,” Deprey said.

The misses led to a final chance for Cape to reverse the script. The Capers called a timeout with 5.4 seconds left to set up a final shot, and Amaniel Hagos found Tanner Carpenter (11 points, three 3-pointers) for an open 3-pointer. The shot was short, however, and time ran out.

“Carpenter caught the ball at the end there, and when he took that (3-point attempt) my heart just sunk,” said Caribou point guard Austin Findlen. “But it hit front rim. For us to win the game, it’s unbelievable.”

Findlen, Caribou’s lone senior starter, scored a team-high 13 points and led the Vikings in the fourth quarter. He executed a poke-check steal to get a turnover, and 19 seconds later hit a 3-pointer with 3:20 left for a 39-35 lead. With 1:16 to play, Findlen’s pursuit of a long offensive rebound resulted in a Cape foul, and he made both free throws to put Caribou ahead 41-35, the biggest lead for either team since Cape led 11-4 in the first quarter.

Cape rallied. Hartel made a reverse layup and two free throws, and a 3-pointer by Carpenter with 18 seconds left in regulation tied it up, 42-42.

Seven ties and seven lead changes continually energize the large crowd.

“It’s tough losing, but that’s good stuff,” said Cape Elizabeth Coach Jim Ray. “At the end of the day, I’m so proud of what they did, and I think the people that sit on the Cape Elizabeth side are pretty proud, too.”

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

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Twitter: SteveCCraig


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