Even worse, small school power Whittier was about to knock off Methuen of the powerful Merrimack Valley Conference.
The Cats’ Christina Medley scored her 1,000th career point earlier in the game and the hosts were about to get revenge for a 6-point loss to the Rangers 10 days earlier.
But the Rangers still had a pulse. A very, very faint one, but a pulse nonetheless. The inbounds play with four seconds left didn’t go as planned but Carroll got the rebound, double pumped and released the shot at the buzzer.
TEAM OF THE YEAR Boys: Ranger matmen enjoyed first perfect season in 28 years
Beating powerhouse St. John’s Prep is always a noteworthy accomplishment.
But this was in the Division 1 dual-meet state final and it was by a convincing 36-20 margin. And it capped an unbeaten season for Methuen High.
Making it still more special was the fact that it was the first state championship for a Ranger squad since the 1999 girls basketball team accomplished the feat. Also, it was the first perfect season (20-0) for the Ranger matmen since Brian Urquhart’s 1984 squad, which was led by Eagle-Tribune All-Stars Mark Jozokos and Dan McCarthy.
“I’ve been coaching for 27 years and to win this tournament and be undefeated is something special,” said Methuen coach Bill James that day. “I didn’t expect us to win (handily) like this, but the kids really wrestled well today — everyone.”
There were several big wins en route to perfection. Methuen nipped North Andover, which was then ranked No. 1 in the state, 34-33 in December. The Rangers also had a big win over Lawrence, the defending Division 1 state dual meet champs.
The hits kept on coming for the Blue and White right through New Englands, where Christian Monserrat placed second at 113 and C.J. Doherty took top honors at 145.