Cards and Lady Cards open seasons strong

Published 5:00 pm Thursday, December 1, 2022

Basketball is back in Winchester.

Monday and Tuesday night at GRC Arena were filled with energy as the girls’ and boys’ basketball teams of George Rogers Clark High School opened up their seasons.

The Lady Cards (1-0) defeated the Rowan County Vikings 50-46, while the Cards routed the Bryan Station Defenders by a 75-46 score.

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“It’s the first game…you got a little jitters, but I think we did pretty good,” said Lady Cards guard Kennedy Stamper. “Now it’s time to buckle in and get ready for the rest of the season.”

The boys also felt love from the community.

“It felt pretty good. We came out [and] competed well”, said Cardinals guard Jerone Morton. “We have a good support system here in Clark County. They love basketball. They love sports.”

The girls were up first to start the week, taking on a Rowan County team that finished last season as 61st District Champions with a respectable 24-9 record.

The Vikings would make GRC work for every point in the first half, heading into the locker room with a 20-16 lead over the #2 ranked Lady Cards.

However, GRC would find their offensive rhythm in the second half.

“We were looking more than trying to pound in the post…our ball movement and player movement was a lot better in the second half”, said  Coach Robbie Graham. “I think that got some lanes open for us for some cuts and…open shots.”

Down by 1 point, as time was running out in the third quarter, Stamper had one of the biggest shots of the evening.

Following a near half-court pass from senior and University of Cincinnati commit Brianna Byars, Stamper hit a three-point basket at the buzzer for a two-point lead that added momentum heading into the final period.

“I knew the time was running down. It’s really just me getting my feet set”, Stamper said. “That’s when I can actually do my follow-through, get a good spin on it, and it actually goes in.”

The Lady Cards would capitalize, building their lead to 11 points.

However, led by Murray State commit Haven Ford’s 30 points, the Vikings would not go away quickly as they narrowed their deficit to just two points.

After being fouled with just 0.3 seconds remaining, guard Anaya Chesnut – in her first game as a Cardinal – put the contest away and tallied the final score.

“It’s game one. We got a long way to go to the finish line”, said Coach Graham. “We’ll work every day to keep grinding and getting better.”

One day later, a packed gymnasium welcomed the defending state champion 2022-23 Cards team in their opener against Bryan Station.

Perhaps feeling some pregame jitters themselves, the Cards fell behind early 6-0 after missing two sets of free throws.

However, any offensive lull was sure not to remain long.

Led by Sam Parrish’s game-high 26 points and Jerone Morton’s 17 points, the Cards quickly took control of the game.

They built a significant lead in a sight that has become familiar to Cards’ fans. This time, a 22-0 run to capture a 16-point advantage early in the second quarter did the deed.

“I just thought it was adrenaline coming in. We just had to settle in and play our game”, Morton said. “Once we did that, everything turned out fine.”

While the Cards’ offense, which led the state of Kentucky in points per game last season, found its groove, the team defensively made its mark.

They forced several turnovers, which were converted into scores.

Despite not playing in the fourth quarter, Trent Edwards recorded several blocks and led the Cards with nine rebounds.

Two players – Eli Craig and Parrish – shot 50% from the three-point line, J.P. Gaines went two-for-two on field goals, and Tyleik Maxwell shot 60% from the field.

“It was a great crowd. You can tell there was a lot of support around them”, said Head Coach Josh Cook. “I’m excited to be able to enjoy the win tonight, and then be able to move on to the next one for Friday.”

As the #1-ranked Cards prepare for what’s ahead, plenty of positives exist.

“[We] did some good things, [and] some things definitely we can work on”, Cook said. “I thought our effort there was really good. Our guys were trying to compete.”

The Lady Cards’ season continued on Thursday, Dec. 1st, with a matchup against Great Crossing in Georgetown. They’ll also participate in the Hoops for Harvest Tournament at Dixie Heights High School this weekend.

The Cards have a 10th Region contest Friday, Dec. 2nd, at 7:30 p.m. against Campbell County at GRC Arena.