High-flying Cards and Lady Cards meet the public

Published 4:00 pm Thursday, November 24, 2022

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In many places, having one top-ranked team would be a gift.

For Winchester, it’s become the status quo as of late.

The George Rogers Clark High School Boys and Girls basketball programs introduced their teams to a large crowd Friday as Meet the Cards night took place at GRC Arena.

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“It’s just a fun atmosphere [to] get some fans out, have family out, and enjoy the night,” said GRC Athletic Director Mike Ritchie.

While the boys finished last season as state champions and will enter as the #1-ranked team in the state, the girls finished in the Elite Eight and will enter at #2.

The event began with GRC’s cheerleading squad being introduced, along with Head Coach Jerrica Whitaker.

Unbeknownst to anyone, they would soon earn a trip to the Nationals Tournament in Orlando, Florida, following a strong performance the next day at the UCA Regionals in Lexington.

Following their opening routine, it was time for the girls’ freshman and junior varsity rosters to be introduced.

While the freshman squad consisted entirely of first-year students, the junior varsity squad includes some returning players from last year’s 10th Region championship squad – such as Isabella Chirico, Annette Miller, Jaylynn Goodwin, Maddie Settles, and Ke’Asia Parker.

During a scrimmage, the two teams faced off, with the junior varsity coming out victorious by a score of 10-4.

Next, they introduced the freshman boys and the JV teams.

As with the girls’ program, the two teams would face off against each other.

While the freshman team got off to a fast start, the JV squad featuring returnees like Jaylen Berry and Jacob Smith scored the final ten points to escape with an 18-17 victory.

The games didn’t lack fanfare.

The stands were crowded, and many students could be found cheering on the Cards.

“I know whenever I get in conversations with people that don’t go to GRC, and they ask about school, and stuff, [basketball] is mainly a topic that we go to,” said senior Chase Hatton. “I think this year they’re going to be strong again, and hopefully, we make a push to the state championship.”

“I just like being out here around GRC,” said sophomore Mahni John. “I’m just trying to see us go back to Rupp [Arena] this year.”

The varsity teams were also introduced.

For the girls, players included returning starters Brianna Byars, Ciara Byars, and Kennedy Stamper, plus Trinity Gay, Brooklyn Taylor, and Makili Tabor. New to this year’s roster are Kyleigh Chestnut, Aniya Chestnut, Kyleigh Stakelin, and Aaliyah Graham. The aforementioned JV players helped make up the roster as well.

For the boys, players included returning starters Jerone Morton, Sam Parrish, and Trent Edwards, plus Reshaun Hampton, Tyleik Maxwell, and Kareem Guerrant. Eli Craig, Kamden McAlpin, and Hampton Taylor are new to this year’s roster. The aforementioned JV players helped make up the roster as well.

As the night went on, the girls’ team scrimmaged each other, as did the boys’ team.

Thus, it offered a unique opportunity to see the GRC stars of today take on one another.

Also, the boys’ and girls’ squads competed in a skills competition.

The boys’ team won in both the 3-point shootout and a knockout game as junior J.P. Gaines hit the last shot from the free throw line.

“I was just feeling it, and all of them [were] going in,” he said. “I just shot it with confidence.”

However, the girls finished first in the three-point contest, as newcomer Kyleigh Chestnut hit a half-court shot.

An eighth grader, this was Chestnut’s first time participating in a Meet the Cards night.

“My first thought was, ‘I have to make sure it’s lined up and make sure I put enough air and strength on it’,” she said. “It’s really cool….A lot of people [came], and I enjoyed it.”

After closing remarks, the event was complete for the night.

GRC fans will have much to look forward to in the coming weeks.

The girls’ regular season starts at home against Rowan County on Monday, Nov. 28, at 7:30 p.m.

The boys’ regular season starts at home against Bryan Station on Tuesday, Nov. 29th, at 7:30 p.m.