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Athlete of the Week: Justin Gardiner

(Editor's note: Throughout the local high school sports season, Culpeper Times will again recognize an “Athlete of the Week” from one of the sports on a rotating basis. This week we feature boys basketball. At the end of the year the Times will select a male and female athlete at both Culpeper County and Eastern View high schools and recognize them as “Athlete of the Year” at their respective schools.)

Justin Gardiner may have been the most improved player for the Eastern View High School basketball team this season.
“He really came on in the second half of the season,” said Cyclones coach George Bowles. “He showed real senior leadership. His shooting improved, he distributed the ball well and he did a lot of other things that he had been struggling with earlier in the season. I'm very proud of him.”
Bowles said Gardiner also shows good court vision.

“He sees the whole court well and he was always looking to get the ball out on breaks and get us moving,” he said
Gardiner's athleticism is apparent in that he was able to play both point and shooting guard for the Cyclones, positions with two very different sets of responsibilities.

“But athleticism alone won't do it in basketball,” Bowles said. “It has to be coupled with some skills. Justin showed he had that, too.”
The Cyclones recently completed a disappointing season in terms of their record and Bowles said he challenged his team to improve for next year.
“You get better from the day the season is over until the season begins again,” the first-year head coach said he told them. “It's all about your level of commitment.”

Although Gardiner said he was hoping for more on-the-court success in his senior year, there were some high points for him.
“We definitely improved as a team,” he said. “We never quit and we kept working until the end of the season. We stuck together as a team.”
Gardiner also played football this season, but what he considers his best sport is just beginning.
“I think I'm best at baseball,” said Gardiner, who plays second base. “Like football and basketball I like that it's a team sport and in order to succeed you have to work as a team.”

Gardiner said he plans to go on to a four-year college after graduation, but has not made a decision as to where. He does know he will probably stick to baseball in college.
In school he enjoys math and said he is leaning toward studying accounting.
“I like to snowboard and hunt in my spare time,” he said.

NOTE: Culpeper County High School coach James Thompson neither nominates Athletes of the Week nor allows his team members to talk to the media during the season. The Blue Devils season ended after a loss in the first round of regional play Tuesday night.
“Nik Stewart, Henry Butler and Anthony Banks are all averaging double figures heading into the tournament,” he said.
Stewart scored his 1,000th point for the Blue Devils earlier this season.

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