GREAT FALLS – Great Falls CMR senior Addison Gardner has spent four years terrorizing Class AA with fearless drives to the basket and unrelenting defense.
Now she’s taking her talents to the NCAA Division II level, signing with the MSU-Billings Yellowjackets Wednesday afternoon at CMR fieldhouse.
“After looking around at a couple different schools, I decided that academically it’s better with the smaller classes for me,” Gardner said. “And basketball wise I just learned that their team is just a family, and the atmosphere is really exciting.”
The three year starter was third in scoring in Class AA as a senior, pouring in 13.6 points per contest. She was seventh in the AA in assists (2.7 per game) and fifth in steals (2.4 per game) leading the Rustlers to back to back appearances at the state tournament and being named to the Class AA All-State team as a junior and senior.
“It’s bittersweet, I’m proud of her,” said CMR head coach Brian Crosby. “I’m excited that she gets to continue her basketball career but it’s hard as a coach when you have such good players. We lose four really good seniors and there’s a reason we’ve been successful over the last few years. That’s the sad part, but the happy part is she gets to continue her career, and I think MSU-Billings is getting a steal.”
Gardner joins a Yellowjackets team that advanced to the NCAA DII Elite Eight in March, on the strength of several former treasure state stars. Gardner had made her commitment before the postseason run and was even more excited about MSU-B after watching her future team win.
“It was exciting,” she said. “We watched it all and seeing a team have that success and hopefully when I’m there we have that success as well.”
Gardner will join a roster that already has two former Electric City stars. Former Rustler Taylor Edwards will be a senior on the Yellowjackets this winter and Great Falls High product Hannah Collins will enter her sophomore year.
“It’ll be weird playing with Hannah, since we always played against each other,” laughed Gardner. “And I’m excited to be around Taylor she’s an awesome person.”
Crosby knows Gardner will fit in well and be able to contribute sooner than later.
“Coach (Kevin) Woodin does a heck of a job, he recruits Montana well and he wins with Montana kids,” he said. “And I think she has the work ethic to be a college player. She was here at 6:30 this morning getting shots up. I think that’s a special thing and I think that’s something that will translate. She’s going to be a good one.”
Gardner is the second member of the CMR girls to sign with a college basketball team, following Akasia Denton who signed with Rocky Mountain College in February.