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Prep Zone: 3-point shootout

March 2, 2012
Richmond Burton High School

3 point shootout

NORMAL – Johnsburg sophomore Kayla Toussaint narrowly missed the finals of the IHSA Class 3A 3-Point Showdown Thursday at Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena.

Toussaint made 9 of 15 shots and needed one more make to get into a shoot-off for one of the finals’ spots. Grayslake Central’s Sarah Kuligowski and East Peoria’s Sarah Kurth each made 11, while Charleston’s Megan O’Dell and Limestone’s Cassidy Jennings each made 10.

Also in Class 3A, Crystal Lake Central sophomore Kelsey Schmitt made six shots, and Richmond-Burton senior Erin Thomas made five.

In Class 4A, Prairie Ridge sophomore Sarah LeBeau made five, and Dundee-Crown senior Ali Sanders made three.

The Class 4A finalists are Granite City’s Paige Luehmann, Buffalo Grove’s Becca Appelt, Lincoln-Way North’s Ashley Weringa and Hononegah’s Krystal James. (NWHerald 3/12/12)

Prep Zone: Area girls gun for crown in 3-point shootout

By JOE STEVENSON – joestevenson@shawmedia.com

Dundee-Crown senior guard Ali Sanders wants to embrace her high school basketball career as long as possible, and the IHSA 3-point Showdown has allowed her to hang on for a couple of weeks longer.

Sanders was one of two local competitors to advance Thursday from the IHSA Class 4A McHenry Sectional to the 32-competitor field in today’s finals at Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena.

“I’m pretty excited. This lessened the blow of the season being done,” said Sanders, who will play at NCAA Division II Florida Southern next season. “Once this is over, it will hit me that high school basketball is done.”

Sanders is one of five local competitors who qualified for the finals. Shooting starts at 5 p.m., with Class 3A on one end and Class 4A on the other. Prairie Ridge’s Sarah LeBeau will be the second shooter in Class 4A. Crystal Lake Central’s Kelsey Schmitt, Richmond-Burton’s Erin Thomas and Johnsburg’s Kayla Toussaint will shoot in Class 3A. Sanders and Thomas are seniors, while the other three girls are sophomores. All five are making their first trip, and only Toussaint was not among the top 10 in 3-point shooting for the season.

Sanders made 9 of 15 and was comfortably in Thursday when LeBeau had to go to a shoot-off, five shots from each corner, to make the finals. She made 6 of 10.

“I was really surprised to make it this far as a sophomore,” said LeBeau, who tied teammate Haleigh Danek for second in the area with 48 3-pointers. “Going into the final night, I approached it like it didn’t matter and I didn’t have anything to lose. Just go out and shoot.”

LeBeau said her grandfather, Robert Horwath of Marengo, helped her develop her shot working on the driveway when she was younger.

Sanders also tried not to think about state during her run to the sectional final. There is no 3-point round at the supersectional games.

“If you think too much, it’s only 45 seconds, and one mental lapse and you’re through,” Sanders said. “If I was thinking about that, I might have choked.”

Thomas narrowly missed making it to state as a freshman at R-B and will finish her high school career shooting in the Class 3A contest. She passed 1,000 career points this season and will play at NCAA Division I Loyola of Chicago. Her parents, Dave and Amy, have been rebounding for her in practices this week after the boys team is done practicing.

“It’s always been a goal of mine to make it, but I’ve always been a few makes away,” said Thomas, who made 43 during the season.

“I’m really excited about it,” Thomas said. “I’ve wanted to experience this and I hope it goes well.”

Thomas had a double-overtime shoot-off in the second regional round to survive.

Schmitt tied for 10th in the area with Sanders at 32 3s for the season.

“The day before the sectional [final round], I thought I had a chance,” Schmitt said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to get exposure, and I’m real excited to be going.”

Toussaint has an advantage of having a father with keys to the gymnasium. Her father, Mike, coached the Johnsburg girls varsity team for 11 successful seasons and now is boys head coach.

“It’s a good accomplishment; I’ve worked hard for it,” she said. “Sometimes I go to the boys practice [now] and shoot. When I made it to the sectional round my confidence was higher and I got more excited.”

Toussaint tied for second on Johnsburg’s team this season with 15 3s.

Touching story: The Class 3A Marengo Regional boys basketball tournament was struck by tragedy when two Belvidere North cheerleaders, Thalia Arredondo and Brenda Gutierrez, died in a car crash Friday. The Blue Thunder’s cheerleading squad was not ready to perform without them, so Belvidere High School’s cheerleaders stepped in for Monday night’s play-in game against Freeport.

According to a story in the Rockford Registar-Star, Belvidere’s cheerleaders donned T-shirts over their uniforms that read: “Two teams, one town,” and cheered for the Blue Thunder.

North lost the game, but Belvidere’s cheerleaders, school and community should be applauded for the effort in a most difficult time. (NWHerald 3/1/12)

• Joe Stevenson is the senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at joestevenson@shawmedia.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.

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