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Longtime Maryland basketball fan adds to his boyhood memories by hitting halfcourt shot, winning $500

Charlie Gaines made a layup, a free throw, a 3-pointer and a halfcourt shot, all in a span of 30 seconds, to win $500.

COLLEGE PARK — Charlie Gaines grew up in Baltimore going to Maryland basketball games with his father Steve and has many memories — most of them pleasant but admittedly some of them painful.

“My father has had season tickets to Maryland football games and basketball games for 30 years, and I’ve been coming since I was a baby,” said Gaines, 26.

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None might be greater than the one that the former pitcher, who competed at Dickinson after graduating from St. Paul’s, created himself during Friday’s 86-63 win over George Mason.

Selected as the night’s participant to attempt a layup, a free throw and a 3-pointer to get a chance at a halfcourt shot, all in a span of 30 seconds. Gaines made all four to earn a check for $500 and a standing ovation from the crowd.

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Wearing one of the 30 replica Maryland basketball jerseys he owns — the No. 12 jersey he bought when Terrell Stoglin was lighting it up for the Terps — the only shot Gaines missed was his first 3-pointer before hitting on his second try.

As the clocked ticked down, Gaines pumped up the crowd with his arms and then calmly swished the halfcourt try.

Longtime Maryland fan Charlie Gaines sunk a layup, a free throw, a 3-pointer and a halfcourt shot, all in a span of 30 seconds, to earn a check for $500 and a standing ovation from the crowd at Maryland's game Friday.
Longtime Maryland fan Charlie Gaines sunk a layup, a free throw, a 3-pointer and a halfcourt shot, all in a span of 30 seconds, to earn a check for $500 and a standing ovation from the crowd at Maryland's game Friday. (Don Markus / Baltimore Sun)

It proved that not practicing — at least recently — makes perfect.

“Honestly, I hadn’t shot a basketball in six months,” said Gaines, who works as an environmental consultant while going for his MBA at Maryland part-time.

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Not that Gaines hadn’t prepared for his moment.

“It’s funny,” he said. “My brothers and I always used to practice this challenge. We saw it at the games so many times, it looked fun. We’d go to the gym, put 30 seconds on the clock. … I never did it with them, I don’t know how I did it here, I guess it was the adrenaline.”

Gaines had made a prediction to the three friends he came with to the game.

“I told my friends, you can ask ‘em, ‘If I make the free throw, I’m going to win,’ ” he said. “That’s the hardest shot for me. And I’m upset I missed my first 3-pointer, that’s my bread and butter.”

Interestingly, Gaines had been thinking about it when he arrived at Xfinity Center. Before taking his seat, Gaines saw a woman who looked somewhat official, holding some sort of paperwork. He asked who he should talk to about participating in the promotional.

“She said, ‘Me,’ ” he recalled. “I said, ‘Can I please do it?’ ”

When a reporter asked Gaines if he wanted to take the ball he was holding that had been autographed by Maryland coach Mark Turgeon for another try at the halfcourt shot, he said, “Honestly, give me another shot, I’ll make it.”

While Gaines’ shot might not help erase his own memory of Michigan State’s Kori Lucious hitting a 3-pointer to beat the Terps in the second round of the 2010 NCAA tournament to ruin a comeback led by Gaines’ favorite player, Greivous Vasquez, it will at least add to the list.

At the top of the list, at least until Friday, was Maryland winning the national championship in 2002 when Gaines was nine, and seeing a home victory in person over Duke when he was “a freshman or sophomore in high school.”

Maryland officials couldn’t remember if anyone had ever hit a halfcourt shot during a sponsor’s promotion. As of three years ago, Toyota offered a RAV4 for making one.

Gaines said that when Turgeon signed the commemorative basketball, he told the Maryland coach, “Hey Mark, I’ve got four years of eligibility if you need me.”

Turgeon, who was talking to his team during a media timeout when Gaines made the shots, didn’t realize what was going on.

“That’s awesome,” Turgeon said later. “I don’t know what he won, but that’s really cool. I had just broke my clipboard in the timeout and the crowd is going [crazy] and I was like, ‘Damn, they like me breaking the clipboard.' ”

Gaines got a few congratulatory texts on his phone, including two from his younger brothers.

“They went crazy,” he said.

Gaines also contacted the Maryland football office on Instagram because he was headed Saturday back to campus for the game against Nebraska.

“I wanted to see if they’d let me try kicking the field goal,” he said Saturday morning.

Gaines learned a few hours before kickoff that he would be kicking the 20-yard field goal shortly after the beginning of the second quarter. If successful, he’ll receive $500 and free chicken for those in his row at Maryland Stadium.

Only one problem.

“I’ve never tried a field goal before,” Gaines said.

He wound up narrowly missing.

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