PEORIA — Arcola senior Nick Vaughn, a 6-1 guard/forward for the boys basketball team, as well as Neoga junior Mitchell Cornell, who is 6-2, are among the 32 shooters that are to participate in Thursday's Country Financial Three-Point Showdown at Carver Arena. The competition is to start at 5 p.m.
Each of the 32 contestants in each class gets 45 seconds to shoot 3-pointers from three spots on the court: five from the right side of the free-throw line extended area, five from the top of the key and five from the left side of the free-throw line extended.
In case of a tie, there is to be a tiebreaker where each shooter has 30 seconds to shoot five from the right corner and five from the left corner.
The top four advance to the Class 1A finals, which are set for approximately 12:45 p.m. Friday.
Vaughn is the fourth person to shoot in the first group of eight and in the south end.
"I didn't think I would get this far," said Vaughn. "It is my first time ever doing it, and it feels great to have made it to state."
Arcola had their two seniors automatically qualify for the regional competition along with two others, who had to earn their way to the four Purple Riders that shot at the regional in Windsor. Vaughn made nine of 15 and was one of four to advance to the sectionals including teammate Alec Downs.
At the Central A&M Sectional, Vaughn made 11-of-15.
Vaughn said it doesn't really matter to him what order he shoots in. He was the sixth shooter at Central A&M.
"I am just hoping to advance," said Vaughn of his goal for Thursday. "I just try and do what I can do."
Vaughn said he has been practicing about two or three times per week. He also said he can tell when he is in rhythm and shooting the ball well, especially after the first few shots.
Vaughn, who has earned a T-shirt, becomes the fourth person from Arcola to shoot in the 26 years of the event, joining Kollin Seaman, who competed twice, including in 2015 and 2014, while Kyle Downs made it in 2007 and Matt Venhaus in 1996.
Cornell advanced to state by making eight of 15 in the Central A&M Sectional at Moweaqua last Friday.
"I just want to shoot the ball and if I advance, I advance," said Cornell of his goal.
Cornell is in the first group of eight and is believed to be the first boy from Neoga to make the state preliminaries. There are four groups of eight overall, and Cornell will shoot at the south basket.
Cornell said he prefers shooting at the last rack of five basketballs, which is on the left wing. He added that after the first couple of shots at the start of the competition, he can tell if he is on or not.
This week Cornell has been practicing by shooting about two hours a day with his brother Alex Cornell, a freshman.
"It is pretty cool being the first one to go from Neoga," said Cornell.
Cornell, who expects to have some teammates as well as his family present Thursday, was selected as one of the four from Neoga to compete in the regional by coach Bob Lockart.
In the regional, Cornell advanced by making nine of 15 before the Indians lost in the regional championship to Nokomis 55-40. He was one of four to advance from the regional to the sectional.
Cornell, who said he has never shot in a big arena like Carver Arena, isn't that worried about adjusting to the fact there are no walls right behind the basket, as the shooters will get to warm-up for three minutes before the competition begins.