Archive for Thursday, January 22, 2004

Gardner makes MHS history, hits 1,000 points

January 22, 2004

McLouth's Isaac Gardner now has secured family bragging rights.

Oldest brother Nathan, now 25, rushed for 5,004 yards during his four-year high school career and ranks No. 11 on the all-time Kansas high school rushing list. His jersey now hangs in an enclosed case in the main hall at MHS.

Older brother Aaron, who now is 21, was a basketball standout at MHS where he was 26 points shy of 1,000 during his prep career.

Isaac one-upped Aaron.

Needing 14 points to reach the milestone, the youngest Gardner finished with 17 on Jan. 9 at Highland and became McLouth's first 1,000-point scorer in boys history.

"With about five minutes left, I was at 999," Gardner said. "I always told everybody I wanted to be over 1,000, not on it."

The senior wanted a three-pointer. After missing two, he sank the third.

"It was unexplainable," Gardner said. "Tingles went through my body. We had a great fan club that started chanting.

"It was indescribable what the feeling was like."

Gardner knew the record was in reach after seeing Aaron nearly attain the mark. And although he said there was no pressure to grab the record, his siblings reminded him of their glory days.

"If I had a bad game they would mention their records a little bit, but there was no pressure," Gardner said.

Gardner, who averages 25.7 points per game, tore an ACL last February against Horton and missed two games. Aaron also tore that tendon, but it came in his senior year during football season.

This year, Gardner has helped MHS to a 4-4 record, an improvement from his sophomore year when the team went 3-17. Last season, MHS finished with an improved 8-13 record.

"Last year we got a foundation started for a good program," Gardner said. "We have a McLouth mentality of losing and bad attitudes and I think this year we're overcoming a lot of that."

Second-year coach Chad Brown said Gardner's potential milestone was a great accomplishment, but it wasn't this year's main focus.

"We really haven't talked about it much and we've been so much in trying to bring the program up, but I think it's been in the back of everybody's mind a little bit," Brown said. "But it really just comes pretty naturally with what we're doing break-wise and offensively."

Gardner said his teammates have made everything possible.

"We have great team players," Gardner said. "They do give me the ball well. You've got to get players who can get you the ball. I can't do it all."

When he isn't scoring in transition, Gardner is shooting in the half-court game, an area Brown said Gardner has found more success.

"This year his shot selection is better than last year," Brown said. "He's only averaging 18 shots a game."

More important than scoring, Brown thinks Gardner also provides vital intangibles.

"I think more than scoring he provides our spark, our intensity," Brown said.

Gardner's ultimate goal is competing on the Division-I level. McLouth already has produced D-1 athletes in football and track.

Jeff Schwinn, ranks No. 9 in the state in career passing with 5,189 yards. Schwinn just finished his collegiate career at Kansas State as the Wildcats' reserve quarterback.

And last year, Courtney Edmonds became the first Bulldog to reach 1,000 career points in basketball. She also was a multi-year state medalist in cross country and track and now competes in those sports at Kansas.

But unlike Edmonds, Gardner competes in just one sport. The senior has received interest from Allen County Community College in Iola, but no four-year schools. The bottom line: Gardner wants to continue his career in college whether that's at community college, small college or even KU.

"It's always been a dream to walk on at KU," Gardner said. "I know walk-ons can try out and all they can say is no."

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