Senior Basketball Player Places Fifth at State

Cierra Veizer, Sports Editor

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Senior Jackson Weller earned fifth place in the IHSA 4A Three-Point Shootout State Competition on March 14 in Carver Arena in Peoria.

To advance to the state finals, Jackson won both the regional competition in Collinsville and the sectional competition in East Moline.

“Honestly it was a little disappointing because I could’ve gone a little further,” Jackson said. “But at the same time, I’m proud of myself because I know it was a long road to get there, and it’s not easy considering the amount of shooters there are to start the competition.”

In each round, players shoot 15 basketballs off of three racks arranged just beyond the three-point arc. The racks have five balls each and are placed at the top of the circle and along the left and right sides of the baseline. Competitors have 45 seconds to make as many baskets as they can.

At regionals, Jackson made nine baskets, and at sectionals, he made nine as well. However, at sectionals another shooter also made nine, sending both boys into a tie breaker. Jackson sank one more shot than the other player.

According to Jackson, he spent hours every day after school with coach Dustin Battas in preparation for the regional, sectional and state contests.

“It’s different shooting off of a rack than catching a pass from somebody and then shooting it, so I did a lot of time practicing after school with coach Battas to get ready for it,” Jackson said.

Coach Battas commends Jackson for his work ethic and said that only one other student has made it to the state finals in the past 15 years.

“My job was very small; mostly I just rebounded for Jackson,” coach Battas said. “He’s a really hard worker who did 99 percent of the work himself, so I just gave him an opportunity to shoot in the gym and practice shooting off the racks like it would be in the competition. He did all the important work.”

Jackson’s younger brother, sophomore Brennan Weller, also helped Jackson prepare.

“He and I go to the YMCA about every day, and we shoot together. I rebounded for him,” Brennan said. “And I’m proud of him for placing fifth. It’s not an easy thing to do, especially with how many people participated.”

Despite all the time spent in the gym practicing with Brennan and coach Battas, Jackson felt somewhat unprepared for the contest.

“It was different because all I’ve really ever played was team sports, so I just didn’t really know how to feel about it being individual,” Jackson said. “But at the same time, it was kind of like a weight lifted off of my shoulders because if I didn’t do as well, I wasn’t going to let anybody down.”