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Gardner earns all-state honor

It’s been three months since King’s Fork’s basketball season came to a close, but postseason honors continue to come in for KF’s senior center, Davante Gardner.

Gardner was named first-team all-state, becoming the third Bulldog to earn all-state honors in the last two years. Last year, JaQuan Parker was first team all-state and Player of the Year. Jamar Wertz made second team.

“It shows hard work does pay off and it further validates how good Davante has been for us at King’s Fork,” said KF head coach Joshua Worrell.

Gardner played on four straight Eastern Region Tournament teams for the Bulldogs. Gardner was the starting center in 2008-09 on KF’s state championship team.

Within the Southeastern District, Gardner’s helped lead the Bulldogs to three straight district tournament titles and back-to-back regular season championships. KF is undefeated in the district dating back to Feb. 2008.

This season, the 6-foot-8 senior averaged 23 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots per game as the Bulldogs went 24-3 overall.

Gardner has accepted a full scholarship from Marquette of the Big East.

Gardner saved some of his best games for the best opponents this past season, especially during the district and regional tournaments.

“It really doesn’t matter what the game means or how big the game is, he’s going to show up and play his best,” Worrell said.

“He faced double-teams and triple-teams from just about everyone, but he didn’t get frustrated. He kept working and kept playing. He just made sure he was doing everything he could to help our team win,” Worrell said.

Worrell hopes the all-state awards in the past couple years become motivation for up-and-coming Bulldogs.

“We know we won’t have another JaQuan or Davante,” Worrell said. “But we can still have our new kids to work in the classroom and on the court and we have to work with them on what they do well.”

“I think kids can see what hard work can do and see the respect you get by working hard,” Worrell said.