Officially, Morris junior Austin Patterson made 11 shots to win at both the Class 3A regional and sectional rounds of the IHSA’s Three-Point Showdown.
Unofficially, Patterson did even better than that. Last Friday at the Rich East Sectional, Patterson and Morris coach Joe Blumberg both insist Patterson made 12 3-pointers, though only 11 were counted.
“[Morris senior] Brock Kukman videotaped it, and so did my mom and dad,” Patterson said. “As soon as I would make one, [the official’s] hands would go up, and if you just watch how many times his hands went up, they went up 12 times.”
Accurate or not, Patterson’s total was the highest of any of the 16 shooters at Rich East. He advanced to the state final tournament, where he will shoot on Thursday.
“We weren’t sure why, and it ended up not being an issue,” Blumberg said. “That would have been an interesting predicament. Would they go to instant replay from a phone video? Probably not. Luckily, we didn’t have to challenge the total.”
This is the second time Patterson has been entered in the Three-Point Showdown. In 2013, he failed to advance beyond the Herscher Regional.
“I just wanted to do better at it than I did last year,” Patterson said. “I think I had more focus and was more determined than I was last year, ‘cause I was more nervous last year than this year.”
Over the past two seasons, Patterson has made 153 3s, in 380 attempts, for the Redskins. Though his volume increased this season, when he went 95-for-244, his accuracy actually decreased to 38.9 percent from 42.6.
“No one that has scouted us or knows anything about our team will let him get an uncontested, clean look. Teams are already playing junk defenses on him,” Blumberg said. “If he’s squared up and able to get the ball to his release point in rhythm, he rarely misses. Obviously we are working as a team on getting him more looks coming off of screens. And he needs to work at creating more shots for himself off the dribble. But a 3-point competition takes all of that out of the equation.”
As effective an in-game shooter as Patterson is, it is reasonable to argue that he might be even better in formats like the one in which he is currently competing.
“No defense, time is not a factor with his quick release, and he doesn’t have to move without the ball and worry about footwork and getting his shoulders squared. And he’s not a guy that worries about misses all that much,” Blumberg said. “He has a very repeatable shot form, and that bodes well for a competition like this.”
Blumberg admits that “we don’t play in very many big arenas,” and Patterson said he has never played or even shot competitively in a setting like Peoria’s Carver Arena. Early in the week, Patterson said he was more excited than nervous, though, and that he is unconcerned with the effect Carver’s spaciousness might have on him.
“It’s just me and the basket out there,” Patterson said. “[The shots are] the same length. It’s the same diameter of the rim. It’s the same basketball you’re shooting. I don’t think [the environment] will have much effect on me, I guess.”