Marian Central’s Kyler Hardie thoroughly enjoyed his round at the IHSA 3-Point Showdown at the Class 3A Hampshire Sectional on Friday.
Hardie was the first of 16 shooters and fired in 11 or 15 shots, then relaxed while everyone else chased him. Eventually, Belvidere’s Maurice Jackson hit 13 and two other competitors made 11, but those rounds came from some of the later shooters, so Hardie was safe.
Hardie, a reserve guard who hit three 3s for the season, will be one of three area players shooting in the state competition for Classes 3A and 4A, which begins at 5 p.m. Thursday at Peoria’s Carver Arena. Prairie Ridge’s Payton Otto and McHenry’s Kyle Postal will compete in the Class 4A contest.
Postal, who hit 32 3s on the season, hit 10 of 15 and tied for first in the Lake Zurich Sectional. Otto hit nine at the Elgin Sectional and had to win an overtime shoot-off with two other competitors.
“For the first round, I was super nervous,” said Otto, a sophomore guard who hit 25 3s during the season. “South Elgin fans were there and saying stuff, it was pretty intense. My nerves cooled down a little and I got in the zone and knocked shots down [in overtime].”
Otto hit 7 of 10 to win the shoot-off and take the fourth qualifying spot.
Postal, unlike Hardie, had to wait until near the end. He was the 14th shooter at the sectional.
“I kind of liked waiting more, seeing what I had to make,” Postal said. “I hit my first shot in warm-ups and knew I could make a couple. It’s great. Who would have thought I would make it downstate?”
Hardie didn’t expect to advance either. He was even a longshot to represent his own team. After Derreck Caldez, Wyatt Lindell and Ben Schnepf, Hardie was the next pick from Hurricanes coach Curtis Price.
“Going into regionals I wasn’t really expecting it, I was the last one [on the team] to get picked,” Hardie said. “I got second at regional [with nine] and that gave me some confidence. I’m excited to compete against the best in the state.”
Otto has been working with his father, Wolves assistant coach Dave Otto, on shooting timed rounds from the three spots this week.
“It’s going to be pretty sweet,” Payton Otto said. “Especially as a sophomore, to go compete and watch some games.”
Otto said he and his father planned on staying for some of Friday’s Class 3A and 4A state tournament semifinal games.