Cards gain momentum, tame Bulldogs 83-59

Published 7:19 pm Thursday, January 13, 2022

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In a dogfight of a first half between George Rogers Clark High School and Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School basketball teams on Friday night in Winchester, it seemed like momentum could swing to either time in any moment.

However, the second-half would be a different story.

Punctuated by a 14-0 second-quarter run, the Cardinals were able to open up a slim 4-point halftime lead en route to a convincing 83-59 victory over the Bulldogs.

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“Our guys know Dunbar’s really good…so they know they’ve got to be ready to play,” Head Coach Josh Cook said. “They wanted to get mentally focused, and they knew how to play well.”

While the Cardinals were able to muster offense on their own to begin the game, the Bulldogs also showed why they were coming in as winners of three of their last four contests. Max Van Dyke’s 14 first half points – 4 of which came on shots from long range – helped keep the Bulldogs in the game. However, he was limited to just 9 points in the second half, several of which came after the Cardinals built a commanding lead.

“If you give him daylight, [he] can make shots. So, we were maybe gambling, [and] not playing as smart as we needed to” Cook said. “In the second half, I thought our guys did a really good job…our help guys became smarter when they needed to be as far as showing our main guys help defensively.”

No player stood out more than senior guard Tanner Walton during a night in which he led the team with 10 rebounds and 25 points – many of which came after battling through defenders.

“He was phenomenal,” Cook said. “It’s such an awesome thing to have a guy like Tanner Walton who can go take over a game at times needed, and he’s so unselfish too.”

Walton also helped lead the team defensively, as the Cardinals forced 14 total turnovers.

“We’ve got really good point guards, and Jerone [Morton] is pretty good,” Walton said. “It just leads to
me getting easier shots.”

Another key contributor for the Cardinals was sophomore guard Reshaun Hampton. Coming off the bench, Hampton scored 8 points in rapid succession on a pair of free throws and two three-point baskets to take what was a 45-42 lead and build it into an 11-point advantage. Afterward, a pair of three pointers from Walton and Stanley Smothers extended the lead to 17. For his efforts in helping to turn momentum into the Cardinals’ favor, Hampton went on to receive Player of the Game honors.

“Reshaun came in tonight, and played solid and…made shots for us, and helped separate the game,” Cook said. “That’s just an important aspect of what our team is doing right now, and we’ve got to continue to do. It might not be your night every night, but when your number’s called you’ve got to perform.”

Other statistical leaders for the Cardinals included 23 points by Morton – 15 coming in the second half – as well as 7 rebounds from Sam Parrish and 6 by Aden Slone.

Sports contributor Matt Cizek wrote this for the Winchester Sun.