Milton Pope eighth grader discusses his incredible game-winning shot


MARSEILLES, Ill. – If you were shocked to see the nearly full-court shot from the sidelines go in at the end of an eighth grade game at Milton Pope Elementary School on social media Tuesday, you’re not alone.

Even the person who put the miracle heave in the basket to beat rival Marseilles Elementary School at the buzzer couldn’t believe it.

“When I shot it, I had not thought of it going in,” said 13-year-old Cooper Thorson when he grabbed the rebound off a missed free throw with his team down by one Tuesday night with three seconds remaining.

He ran to his left and toward the sidelines, then heaved the ball underhand toward the hoop at the other end of the floor. Incredibly, it had the distance and accuracy and went in the basket with no time left to give his team a victory.

“Oh my goodness, when I saw it go through the rim I was like ‘No way that just went in, we won,’” said Thorson when talking about the moment with WGN News Now on Wednesday. “I just started just running around the whole court with the whole team following me, going crazy.

“That just made it ten times better.”

Like the players, coach Dakota Jones was filled with shock and excitement over the moment, yet his focus was on the player’s reaction to the hoop.

“That was my favorite thing,” said Jones of the celebration. “His first few teammates come up and chest bump him when he’s there and then he sees what’s happening with the other ten kids running at him and he just books it until they corner him.”

It’s a shot and a reaction that would have been special to those who saw it happen in the Milton Pope gym, but thanks to Jones’ GoPro set up on one side of the court, the moment had gone viral. Shared by the coach on social media, it’s been picked up by a number of outlets around the country, bringing fame to Thorson.

Yet he still wanted to make sure that his teammates got praise since they helped Milton Pope rally from a ten-point halftime deficit to set up the winning moment.

“The shot really wouldn’t have been possible without most of my teammates keeping us alive in the first half against that aggressive defense and really aggressive offense,” said Thorson. “We would have been down by a lot. At the end, a few kids on my team, they made very clutch threes to just get us back in it.”

You can watch the shot while also seeing more from Thorson and Jones on the moment by clicking on the video above.

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