The quest of Wesclin High School junior Cami Meddows to become the Queen of the Hill in Illinois came up two 3-point jumpers short on Saturday at Redbird Arena.
Competing against three of the top perimeter shooters in the state, Meddows made nine-of-15 3-point attempts and finished second in the Queen of the Hill competition which annually crowns the top 3-point shooter in the state as part of the Class 3A-4A Girls State Tournament weekend.
Meddows, who made nine straight 3-point attempts while winning the IHSA Class 2A State 3-point showdown last week during the Class 1A-2A Girls State Tournament, got off to a good start and finished strong. But the Warriors standout still placed second to Lincoln junior Hailie Williams who made 11 of 15 in her final round.
“I was a little off on my middle set,” Meddows said. “I’m still satisfied with how I did. It was a great experience and I really enjoyed myself.
“Second place is pretty good and to have the number people who came up to watch today was great.”
Meddows was bidding to become the second player from the metro-east to win the Queen of the Hill title. Former Carlyle standout Paige Rakers won the championship in 2011-12. Rakers went on to play two years at the University of Michigan and is now attending St. Louis University. Rakers made 12-of-15 attempts in ‘12 to win the crown.
Williams made seven 3-point attempts in a row to finish with 11 field goals in the final.
Final game and final thoughts
It may not have been the finale they wanted, but putting behind them the disappointment of a tough semifinal loss to North Lawndale 24 hours earlier and the fatigue which followed, the Highland Bulldogs 62-51 win over top-ranked Chicago Morgan Park in the Class 3A State Tournament third place game, showed the true character of the team.
“It wasn’t bad,” Bulldogs senior Amanda Ponce said when asked about the fatigue of playing two state tournament games in as many days. “Coach (Mike) Arbuthnot works us hard in practice. We were prepared.
Without question one of the top players in Highland girls basketball history, Ponce put the finishing touch on her brilliant career on Saturday with an equally brilliant game in which she scored 19 points, pulled down six rebounds and added five assists. Together, she combined with juniors Madison Wellen and Alex LaPorta for 56 of the Bulldogs 62 points on Saturday.
Arbuthnot, finishing his third year at Highland after several years at Roxana High School, became a little emotional when asked about Ponce and what she has meant to both him and the Bulldogs program.
“As pleased and proud as I am of the girls and this basketball program, its actually kind of a bittersweet moment. We had a great year that none of us will forget, but at the same time we don’t get to work with this group of girls anymore. I can’t tell you what a great group of kids this has been to coach,” Arbuthnot said. “Amanda (Ponce) has been a great player. at Highland..... it’s just tough... very tough.
“Coming back after yesterday I knew we would be ready to play today. It’s just the way these kids are. We feel the Mississippi Valley Conference was one of the best in Class 3A this year. We wanted to represent it the best that we could and we did that this weekend.”