“The shot” propels Kits over Hawks in emotional game


Maine South prepares to shoot a free throw, seconds before freshman Blake Peter’s shot of a lifetime.

Chris Werner, Sports Editor

On Friday night in a packed Beardsley Gym,  Maine South seemed to have secured a two-point win. But ETHS freshman Blake Peters decided a historic, viral ending could be a bit more exciting.

In the pregame shootaround, both Maine South and Evanston honored the memory of Thomas Gardiner, the father of Hawks’ senior big man Tommy Gardiner and the uncle of junior forward John Gardiner. Each team took the floor with shirts that remembered Thomas who had been in a fatal car accident on Jan. 15.

Maine South’s shooting shirts were black and featured the words “Bigger Than Basketball” in white letters on the front. On the back was a red number 22, Tommy’s number, and the word “Family” where a player’s last name usually appears on a jersey, again in white lettering.

Evanston’s warmup shirt was green because of the Gardiner family’s proud Irish heritage and read “Hawks Fly Together” in white type on the front. The shirts also had the initials “TG” written on the sleeve. Many Hawks fans also wore the shirt.

In a game that was featured as WCIU’s “Game of the Week,” 13 ranked Evanston and 24 ranked Maine South, according to Mike O’Brien’s latest  Chicago-area Super 25 basketball rankings, did not disappoint. The game was close throughout, with neither team leading by more than six at any point. As time ran off the clock in the final quarter, the Hawks grabbed a 43-42 lead with 11 seconds remaining.

After a miss at the free throw line by Maine South, the Kits’ Lance Jones got the rebound and the ball found its way into  Peters’ hands. He took a few dribbles to corral it and get across the half-court line on the right side of the floor. He then picked up his dribble and looked to pass. Two Hawks came in to double-team the freshman and he tried to make a desperate pass. The ball was intercepted by the Hawks’ Michael George.

“When Lance passed me the ball I wasn’t really expecting it,” Peters said. “After that I just panicked and threw it. I was pretty disappointed.”

George then tried to evade Evanston defenders to end the game. But ETHS fouled him with 2.6 seconds on the clock. George stepped calmly to the line and nailed the first free throw. 44-42.

After the made free throw, Maine South took a timeout, and the Kits returned to the bench.

“We drew up a play in case he made the second free throw,” Peters said. “Coach Ellis reminded us that as long as there’s at least one second left, we have time for one last shot. He told us that he believed in us.”

Following the timeout, George stood at the line one more time.

When he let the ball go, it looked as if it would find the bottom of the net and make the margin three. But, the ball rimmed out. Peters grabbed the rebound and dribbled once to gain momentum. Then, with just about one second left, he heaved the ball nearly 80 feet, letting go at the Hawks’ free-throw line. Peters did all of this one handed.  The ball nearly grazed the ceiling of historic Beardsley Gym as the buzzer sounded. The shot, which had been a little off to the left when Peters let it go, miraculously began slicing back to the right. The ball reached the basket and fell through the left side of the net. 45-44. Kits win.

“When he missed the free throw, I saw the ball and I just threw it,” Peters said. “That was the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life.”

The play instantly became an internet sensation. Various videos of the play made appearances on popular social media accounts including @Houseofhighlights, @Greatesthighlights, @Sportsillustrated, @SBNation and @Sportscenter. And after receiving recognition from ESPN figures like SC host Scott Van Pelt and ETHS alum Cassidy Hubbarth, the shot also reached number one on Sportscenter’s ¨Top 10 plays” – a feat that every child dreams about as they practice buzzer beaters in their backyard.  

“I’m shocked,” Peters said. “It’s like a dream to be on Sportscenter’s Top 10 with guys like Zion Williamson. To be the number one play, it’s pretty spectacular.”

@ETHSports’s original video of the shot now has over 1 million views on Twitter.  The SC video has over 1.5 million.  

With the dramatic win, Evanston improved to 15-4 and 6-1 in the CSL South, to remain in first place in the conference.

A play like that may never happen again at ETHS but the memory will live inside the minds of everybody in the Evanston community for years to come.