By Steve Robinson | February 22, 2019 - 10:47 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite

Regular readers to this column might recall that at this time last year, when the Illinois High School Association Class 1A and Class 2A 3-Point Showdown, sponsored by COUNTRY Financial, rolled around, Jayden Standish from Lexington High School, then a sophomore, had made quite an impression on her competition and was ready to take on any and all comers.

This year in Class 1A, she had some company in the Class from a school in the county and from a school within the Heart Of Illinois Conference. Within the group of shooters she was in, Jayden, now an LHS junior, got to lead off the group of eight shooters in the 3-Point competition and hope to repeat the accomplishment of last year.

When she finished shooting in the 45-second limit this time, Jayden sank 7 baskets. Four competitors later, Jadyn Mitchell, a senior from Flanagan-Cornell High School took her turn, and turned heads as the only girl in that particular group of eight shooters to achieve double-digits, sinking 11 shots. In fact, Mitchell was the only contestant in Class 1A to do that.

But as for Miss Standish, even with her basketball coaches, teammates, and family cheering her on, this time, it wasn’t to be. “I felt I prepared a lot more this year,” she said afterward. “I was in the gym after school every day, and my coaches would come in the gym and work with me every day. I don’t think I came in every day last year.”

Those coaches would be Lady Minutemen head coach Bill Elias and assistant coach Shane Little. Standish said having been at Redbird Arena on Illinois State University’s campus for this competition last year helped her adjust to the atmosphere surrounding the competition this year. So many of the kids I interview when they get to this competition point out that practicing for this and playing mostly in school gyms in small towns, there is an adjustment to be made when they enter the finals of this competition in a 10,000-seat arena where the lights are much brighter and the noise level, even if the place isn’t even one-quarter full can be problematic for them to adjust to.

“You just have to trust your muscle memory and kind of have to go with it,” Jayden advised. Even with all she knew about the surroundings and atmosphere of the competition, “I was definitely still nervous about doing this, but I knew I did everything I could do” to work through it, she explained.

She had a contingent of family, friends, teammates, and teachers come to see her which helped, she explained, because the adults among that group usually come to watch her and her teammates play anyway. Not a big change in terms of what she has experienced before.

For Jayden, she ended her basketball season at this event. That was last Thursday. Being a member of the Lady Minutemen Softball team, she already knows she had practice with that squad to look forward to. She also has travel softball this summer to look forward to, as well.

Because of travel softball, she admits, “I’m not really home during the summer.” And then of course, she tries to squeeze in playing in some summer basketball events, too, “as much as I can,” she admits.

The other girl from a school within the county, Molly White, a senior point guard from LeRoy High School, unfortunately, had a rough go behind the three-point line, only sinking 4-of-15 shots. ”I shot a lot more than I usually do” at practice, she admitted afterward.

Although she doesn’t know yet where she is headed for college, White already has involvement in the National Guard to keep her mind sharp. This summer, instead of participating in travel leagues, she will be headed off to basic training at Missouri’s Fort Leonard Wood. She will be there through what would be her first college semester in the fall, and she’ll actually start her college career at an as-yet undecided institution next spring. Going into it, she already has the rank of Private First Class.

Her motivation for joining the Guard came, she said, “from watching members of the Guard on TV helping during natural disasters. That’s something I really want to be able to do is help people like when hurricanes hit, or something.” She had never experienced any sort of volunteer work of that kind before until the last year when her interest in joining the National Guard developed. Going on mission trips with her church sparked an idea she wanted to do something like this, she explained. Joining the Guard will give her the full experience, she reasoned.

IHSA Class 3A and 4A 3-Point contestants will be here this weekend to compete at Redbird Arena. Here’s hoping they will have success as they try to advance in that competition. And, we all want to wish Standish and Mitchell the best of luck in their future sports season and later on as they head off to college and the Guard.

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