By Will LeBlond
DRYDEN – Every good team seems to have a player that can fill just about any role to contribute to the cause. The Dryden girls basketball team has one such player, but she has elevated that trait to a higher level.
Junior Amy Gardner has been doing it all for the Purple Lions this season. On the offensive end of the floor, she’s scoring a little more than 15 points per game and dishing out a little more than three assists a contest. But perhaps her biggest value for the team – and something that has college coaches interested – is her ability to contribute on both ends of the floor.
Her offensive talent has been apparent, as she is the reigning league MVP and has been Dryden’s leading scorer in 10 of its first 14 games. On defense, however, Gardner is also making her presence known, with three steals a contest to go along with a little more than five rebounds per game. She also has been tasked with shutting down the top scoring threat for the opposition, to which Gardner has been up to the task – some of the best IAC scorers have found tough going against the Purple Lions this season.
For the third-year varsity player, she and her teammates faced a challenge this season, following the graduation of four starters and a large senior class from last year.
“I knew that it was going to be a totally tough year this year after losing them,” said Gardner on the bevy of seniors from last season’s edition of the Purple Lions. “Every day in practice, other girls have stepped up, not just me, so it’s been a collective unit.”
With multiple sources of leadership, Dryden had a 7-7 record as of January 25, but a solid record in divisional play inside the IAC left them reason for postseason optimism. The road to that success inside the IAC has been paved by the way the team has been putting effort into their practices.
“I think we’ve all worked really hard to get to where we are,” said Gardner. “Every day we’re just putting in the work to get there.”
For Gardner personally, the driving force not only comes from getting the team to the postseason, but it comes from multiple other sources, including one inside the family.
Senior Trevor Gardner, Amy’s older brother and star of the Dryden boys basketball team, has been having a solid season for the Purple Lions. The way high school basketball schedules are typically set up, one sibling usually has a home game while the other is playing on the road. The two do make sure, however, to keep tabs on the other’s production.
“It’s always kind of a joke at home,” said Amy. “I’ll always ask him how he did on that night and it’s always a conversation at home after each game and it’s always been that way since we were little.”
The sibling basketball rivalry will end after this season, as Trevor will be graduating and plans to attend Shenandoah University next fall to play golf for the Hornets. After this season, Amy will still have one more year at Dryden, and plans to join a high level AAU team to help improve her own game as she looks to bring the Dryden program up another level and pursue a collegiate athletic career herself.