With time winding down in its Class 4A state quarterfinal game, the Champlin Park boys basketball team was locked in a 50-50 tie with the Chaska Hawks.
The Rebels had their offense set up for one final shot with the ball in the hands of 2017 Mr. Basketball McKinley Wright, who led the way for Champlin Park with 30 points in the contest. Eight seconds were left on the clock when Wright made his move with a hard drive towards the basket. At the same time, Sam DuBois rotated up from the corner to the top of the key as he would become the Rebels’ last line of defense if Chaska were to get a rebound and push the ball up the court for a last-second heave.
Wright pulled up from about 12 feet for a contested jumper that clanked off the back of the rim and came down towards a mosh pit of both Champlin Park and Chaska players. Three seconds remained. The ball was batted back out to the top of the key just beyond the NBA three-point line and to the left of where DuBois was standing. Two seconds to go. DuBois, all in one motion, grabbed the ball, turned his body and threw up a shot. The buzzer sounded and the ball went through the bottom of the net. Final score: Chaska 50, Champlin Park 53.
“Our plan was to get an iso bucket from McKinley,” DuBois said. “I rotated to the top to try and get back on defense if his shot didn’t go in and [Chaska] got the rebound. I don’t even remember the ball coming out to me.
“My whole body went numb when the shot went in. In the moment I felt like it took a long time for me to react, but it actually was pretty natural when I saw it on camera. Either way that moment was still unreal.”
DuBois’ shot is now among the great game-winners that have been produced during the state basketball tournament and his name will be mentioned with former Minnesota high school greats, who also hit unbelievable game-winners, such as Blake Hoffarber, J.P. Macura and Amir Coffey.
“Going to state was the best time of my life and the best part of high school,” DuBois said. “Going undefeated into the tournament was a great feeling, but all the support from the fans was great. It was really awesome to have people come up to you in restaurants and recognize you and wish you good luck.”
DuBois also received some star treatment both at home and nationally as his play was shown on ESPN during Scott Van Pelt’s SportsCenter segment about the best things he saw that day.
“When I got to school that next week, I actually showed up late and my whole first hour gave me a round of applause when I walked in the room,” DuBois said. “Social media was going crazy too. I gained I think about 1,000 followers on my Instagram.
“When I saw the play made SportsCenter it was really awesome. I had to ask myself ‘did that really just happen?’”
Now that a few months have passed since the shot, DuBois says that not much has changed, but he still does get some recognition.
“I still get some looks from people when I go out,” DuBois said. “I can hear them try and whisper sometimes too and people will be like ‘oh that’s the guy who hit the shot’.”
DuBois graduated this June and will continue his athletic career at Gustavus where he will be playing basketball.