By: Chris Long
Junior forward Jayden Gardner has won Cap-8 Conference Player of the Year honors. Gardner has become a household name across the state after leading the entire 4A class in points per game (22.9) and rebounds per game (15.1) this season. Last year, Gardner split the award with current Leesville Road senior Alex Hunter, but this year he stands alone as the Cap-8 Player of the Year.
Naturally, Gardner was not the only member from the team that received recognition. His junior counterpart Jarren McAllister was named First Team All-Conference along with senior Colton Reed. McAllister, a Virginia Tech commit, is regarded as one of the Cap-8’s top defenders and has averaged 14 ppg, 6.2 rpg, and 2.1 apg this campaign. Reed, who will play at Roanoke College, has been exceptional in his senior season. The sharpshooter has drilled in 75 three-pointers this season on the way to averaging 13.3 ppg.
Starters Thayer Thomas and Ian Hinkley were named All-Conference Honorable Mentions. After taking some time to adjust to the court after his remarkable football season, Thomas has come on as of late and has averaged 6.7 ppg and a conference-leading 4.4 apg. Ian Hinkley, has contributed a valuable 7.2 ppg and 5.5 rpg.
The men were not alone in the honors, four lady Huskies also received All-Conference awards. Cyney Johnson and Demi Washington led the way for the Huskies and were named to the 1st team all Cap-8. Johnson led the Huskies in the scoring department, putting up 15.5 points per game, while Washington was a monster on the glass, leading the team with 6.9 rebounds per game. Washington’s best moment of the night, however, was undoubtedly when she sunk the Cap-8 winning free throw with 0.3 seconds remaining in the 2nd overtime.
Washington and Johnson were also joined by Alissa Smalls and Alcenia Purnell on halfcourt of Broughton’s Holliday Gym after the win on Friday night when Smalls was presented with 2nd team All-Conference and Purnell was presented with honorable mention All-Conference. Smalls led the team in assists per game (4.7) and steals per game (also 4.7) while Purnell was a valuable member of the team recording 6.4 points per game and 2.6 rebounds per game.
Both teams look strong as they head into the state playoffs, and both are guaranteed a home game in the first round. The men’s team will be the east region #1 seed while the women are guaranteed a high seed with a conference tournament win. The state playoff first round will be played on Tuesday February 21st.