Huntley senior guard Amanda Kaniewski’s thoughts were consumed with one thing after qualifying for the IHSA Class 4A Three-Point Showdown.
“I knew I was going, but the one thing I wanted most was for my team to be with me,” Kaniewski said. “I didn’t want to shoot and go home.”
That will not be a problem now. The Red Raiders defeated Wheaton Warrenville South, 47-43, in the Dundee-Crown Supersectional on Monday night to earn their first trip to the state tournament. Huntley (26-6) will meet Rolling Meadows (29-3) at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena in a state semifinal game.
Kaniewski, Johnsburg’s Kallie DiTusa and Marengo’s Taylor Carlson, both in Class 3A, will shoot in the Three-Point Showdown, which starts at 5 p.m. Thursday with 32 competitors in each class. The final four in each class will advance to Friday’s finals at 1:45 p.m. (for 3A) and 8 p.m. (4A).
“I surprised myself and a lot of people,” said Kaniewski, who usually is Huntley’s first girl off the bench and has 13 3s for the season. “I don’t score that much, but I can shoot, too. I didn’t think I’d make it to sectional with all the good shooters we have on our team. In the sectional, I just thought, ‘Whatever happens, happens.”
Kaniewski survived a tough sectional final with nine in the first round, then shoot-out rounds of three and two in overtime to qualify.
Carlson and DiTusa also were surprise qualifiers. Carlson made two 3s this season, and DiTusa made one.
“I kind of always knew I had a good shot, I just didn’t shoot a lot during the season,” Carlson said. “I found there were better opportunities for my teammates.”
Carlson, a junior, is no stranger to state competition. She was a catcher on Marengo’s
Class 3A softball state championship team in 2011 and again last year when the Indians were runners-up.
DiTusa, a senior, was thrilled when her round of seven stood up at sectional and no overtime was necessary.
“It was pretty nerve-racking,” she said. “I would have never guessed I’d be the one to qualify for my team. My sophomore year I played forward and I shot more. Now, I play more in the post. This was pretty unexpected.”
Change in format: The IHSA is handling the Three-Point Showdown differently than in past years as competitors shoot only once in the regional and once in the sectional. Under the old system, players shot on the nights their team would have played.
So for a regional, there is a potential of four players for each team in the competition. In sectionals, it is the top four finishers from each of the regionals feeding in.
• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.