Josh Ruggles made 26 of 30 3-point shots under a statewide spotlight during the past 48 hours but he wasn’t completely satisfied with his shooting.
His marksmanship is otherworldly and, apparently, so are his standards.
The Wheaton Academy sophomore won the IHSA Class 3A state 3-point shooting contest on Friday at Carver Arena in Peoria, matching his staggering total from Thursday’s preliminary round with another 13 of 15 performance from beyond the arc.
After making his first attempt Friday and missing his second, the 6-foot, 145-pound guard drained 12 jumpers in a row before missing his last 3-pointer.
“When I missed that last one, I was pretty angry at myself because I wanted to one-up what I shot [Thursday] and get 14,” Ruggles said. “But you can’t get too angry with yourself when you go out and shoot like that.”
Not many of us can relate, Josh.
His latest swishing rampage was needed to seize the title. Ruggles went last among the four 3A finalists, and the shooter who went just before him, Chatham Glenwood’s Craig Fuchs, made 12 of 15, raising the bar ridiculously high.
But Ruggles would not be denied, setting off a celebration well beyond central Illinois.
“Oh my goodness, it was crazy,” Ruggles said. “I checked my phone afterward and it was just blowing up. I got so many text messages and so many tweets and then random people watching me in the stands coming up to me and congratulating me. It feels great.”
Ruggles spoke as he and his family hauled his plaque home to Wheaton, but he’s due back at Carver today for the King of the Hill shootout featuring the champions in each of Illinois’ four classes. Bennet Schimmelpfenning (4A, Bradley-Bourbonnais), Dayton Ince (Kewanee, 2A) and Brenden Dauphin (River Ridge, 1A) are the opposition, with none of the other three making more than 11 to win their classes Friday.
Ruggles, who shot a team-best 42 percent from 3-point land for Wheaton Academy this season (and 88 percent from the foul line), is a shootaholic, hoisting about 3,000 shots a week. Many of those come in the mini-gymnasium beneath his family’s basement, often with one of his four siblings shagging rebounds.
Ruggles’ older brother, Wheaton Academy senior forward Brandon Ruggles, led the area in rebounding this season at 11.7 boards a game. Ruggles badly wanted to make a deep postseason run alongside his big brother, one of the reasons the top-seeded Warriors’ regional semifinal upset at the hands of Aurora Central Catholic was so agonizing.
“It feels good to win [the 3-point contest] but we’re not going to get over that loss,” Ruggles said. “That was a really upsetting one for us. We worked really hard during the offseason, the preseason, during the season. To go out like that, I don’t think there is anything you can do to make that one feel any better.”
Ruggles plays with the Mercury Elite AAU program, which carries a major Tri-Cities flavor. Geneva’s Nate Navigato, Chris Parrilli and Cam Cook are among Ruggles’ AAU teammates.
If they build it: Veteran Batavia baseball coach Matt Holm said there have been a handful of false starts on potential upgrades to Batavia’s baseball field but he’s starting to believe there is real cause for optimism.
Plans for a new baseball field were included among several outdoor athletics facilities improvements in a long-range plan recently presented to the Batavia school board. Holm said St. Charles North’s field was among those used as a model in plans at Batavia. Holm said with the additions of dugouts, a press box and other upgrades, the new field would be “a special place to play.”
“We’re further along right now than we’ve even been,” Holm said. “We actually have a plan and an engineer doing the drawing and a couple contractors ready to get to work. It’s going to be a matter of raising money. Now that we know where it’s going – it was going back and forth, was it going to be at Mooseheart or [on Batavia’s campus] – now that it’s staying here on the grounds, it’s something we can move forward on. I’m getting excited to a degree but I won’t be real excited until I start seeing money roll in.”
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.