On Thursday, Feb. 26, Marta Durk had a chance to earn a trip to Illinois State University in Normal to compete in the IHSA Class 4A State Three-Point Showdown.
All the O’Fallon sophomore had to do was to finish in the top four in the sectional championship round at Pekin.
Durk did just that.
By making nine 3-pointers, Durk became the first O’Fallon player in four years and just the fourth player in the last 15 years to qualify for the state 3-point shooting contest.
“I was working really hard and it’s good that my hard work had paid off,” Durk said.
Durk’s first trip to the IHSA State Three-Point Showdown at Redbird Arena was short-lived. She was eliminated in the preliminary round Thursday, March 5, after making three 3-pointers.
“I am (disappointed), but I think I have the experience to go on next year and I’ll know what to expect,” Durk said.
Durk did some more traveling the next day. She went to Carbondale to compete in an indoor track meet at Southern Illinois University. Durk helped the O’Fallon 1,600-meter relay team finish second.
In a span of two days, Durk traveled a total of 530 miles across Illinois.
“It was really busy, but I loved it,” Durk said.
A total of 32 players from eight sectionals across Illinois compete in the State Three-Point Showdown, which began in the mid-1990s. The 32 players are split into four groups of eight players. The top four finishers advance to play in the championship round the next day, and the winner competes in the Queen of the Hill contest, which the champions of all four classes square off in a winner-take-all showdown.
Nireet Dhillion of Hoffman Estates Conant won the Class 4A competition Friday, March 6. Shayne Smith of Hume Shiloh, who captured the Class 1A title, won the Queen of the Hill contest the next day.
Durk’s road to the State Three-Point Showdown began Friday, Feb. 20, at the Class 4A regional tournament in O’Fallon. She qualified for the sectional round by finishing in the top four in regionals.
“I went to regionals and I made like seven, I think, in the first round and then, I had to go and do a tiebreaker and I made like three,” said Durk, who competed in the Three-Point Showdown for the first time. “So I advanced from regionals and I went to sectionals and I made nine at sectionals. So that was a good round for me.”
The top four finishers from each sectional qualify for the state round. Besides Durk, Collinsville’s Lauren Lee, Moline’s Hannah Ford and Bloomington’s Mikki O’Neal also advanced out of the sectional round Feb. 26 in Pekin.
Before this winter, Taylor Klingelhoefer was the last O’Fallon player to compete in the state three-point shooting contest. In 2011, she came up one three-pointer shy from making it to the championship round.
Antonisha Duncan is the only O’Fallon player to place in the Three-Point Showdown. In 2004, Duncan finished fourth with three in the finals after making 13 in the preliminary round.
Durk said she enjoyed competing in the Three-Point Showdown. She was one of seven sophomores who participated in the contest.
“It was great,” Durk said. “It was a good experience. There were so many good girls. The crowd was really big and it was really cool.”
The trip to the State Three-Point Showdown put an end to Durk’s outstanding sophomore season. She was O’Fallon’s leading scorer at 13.1 points per game and made 10 three-pointers.
“I had a rough beginning of the year and I was trying to get used to stuff,” Durk said. “I think something clicked in the middle of the season and I found my groove and I felt really comfortable on the court. My teammates really helped me along the way. I give all of my success to them because without them, I wouldn’t be where I am.”