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Justin Bartie has given a boost to the Hamilton Christian basketball team and says he has gotten even more in return. (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)

Justin Bartie has given a boost to the Hamilton Christian basketball team and says he has gotten even more in return. (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)

Bartie gives, gets boost from transfer

Last Modified: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 1:37 PM

By Rhett Manuel / American Press

Hamilton Christian junior guard Justin Bartie isn’t your typical transfer.

Transferring from LaGrange, Bartie sought stability in both his personal life and in basketball.

He’s found that playing for the Warriors, where he’s given a late-season boost to a team leading District 4-1A with a 10-1 mark and is 19-7 overall.

Hamilton Christian can close out the district race this week, playing games against 4-1A foes South Cameron and Basile. The Warriors also sit in prime position to host a first-round playoff game as well.

“Justin gives us another valuable scorer,” Hamilton Christian head coach Dexter Washington said. “What it does it opens up a lot of the inside game for (forward) Brandon Blackwell and the middle for Kody Gamble. We’re a three-headed monster with a freshman point guard (Kenan Fontenot) who is doing a tremendous job.”

Bartie isn’t typical. He’s the rare teenager who asks for his teammates to be photographed with him for the American Press and keeps a picture of his grandfather and his grandmother, who passed away in 2008, in his locker before each game he plays.

Losing his grandmother is something that has affected Bartie in a positive way.

Three weeks before her death, a young Bartie had a conversation with her that would change his plans. At the time Bartie was an aspiring football player with big dreams.

“Our last conversation before she passed away, she asked me what I was going to be when I grew up and I said an NFL player,” he said. “She asked ‘You serious?’ and I told her I didn’t know. She said to try doing what your mom and dad did (and play basketball). I told her I’d do that for her. Three weeks later, she passed away.

“She never had the chance to see me play. So, it was hard for me to sit out (the transfer year).

Bartie isn’t typical. He acknowledges getting teammates involved as his favorite part of basketball. His eyes light up when talking about Blackwell and when asked about Fontenot, he states he “loves that dude.”

“It was kind of hard sitting out because I love the game so much,” he said. “Whenever it was my time to come in, it was a warm welcome and I was just happy to be able to play.”

Bartie isn’t typical. He cites his desire to grow in his Christian faith as a big reason for transferring to Hamilton Christian despite not knowing much about the basketball program.

“I wanted to better my Christian (walk) and get closer to God,” he said. “I saw an opportunity to come to Hamilton so I took it. When I came here, I didn’t know much about the basketball team. But I watched them and thought they were pretty nice. So I asked Coach Washington if I could join the team and he let me. After that, it kept on progressing.”

Bartie isn’t typical. He appears genuinely excited to be playing for Washington, an intense coach who has high expectations for his team, and to be playing alongside his teammates.

“It’s going to be very intense,” he said. “He’s always going to get in your face and try to get the best out of you, as well as all the other coaches. All my teammates, they’re good teammates and anybody who wants to be a part they’ll welcome.”

With another year of eligibility, he hopes that he and his school are building something special. But, as was typical, it came with a introspective caveat.

“We have the talent, it’s just an immaturity issue like coach talks about,” Bartie said. “That’ll stop us, along with (other potential issues).

“If we don’t win (a championship) this year, then next year we’ll have had a year to gel with one another and we’ll have a good shot to win it. I’m very confident in our team.”

Justin Bartie isn’t typical. In this case, it looks to be a good thing for he and Hamilton Christian.

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