Cards and Lady Cards open district play with authority

Published 4:30 pm Thursday, January 5, 2023

The start of a new year brings big dreams for the future.

Tuesday’s performances by the George Rogers Clark Cards and Lady Cards provided reasons to be optimistic.

At Paris High School, the Lady Cards began 40th District play with a 67-32 dismantling of the Lady Greyhounds, while the Cards followed with an 87-48 victory over the Greyhounds.

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“We [defensively] kind of got them back on their heels a little bit, and offensively we played a lot better with the ball,” said Lady Cards Head Coach Robbie Graham.

During the opening matchup, Coach Graham emphasized that one of the key goals was to start strong defensively.

The Lady Cards were able to do just that.

By executive offensively and forcing 17 first-half turnovers, the Lady Cards built a 44-15 halftime lead against a Paris team that entered the contest with a record of 10-3 and had won eight of its last nine outings.

“We started off strong because we have the ball movement, the transition [defense],” said freshman guard Anaya Chestnut. “I think today we executed that better than we have the past week.”

Statistically, Brianna Byars led the Cards with 20 points, while sister Ciara Byars added 15 of her own.

In addition to several rebounds, Senior Brook Taylor made the most of her playing time by adding 8 points.

“We were executing what we were calling, and that way, we’re getting our players put in a position to get open looks,” Graham said. “We were able to find them, and we had plenty of assists tonight.”

Later, the Cards would take on the Greyhounds, who entered as winners of three of their last four games.

They were able to get the upper hand early on.

“I thought we were unselfish. It was good to see our guys get out and be able to get some stops [and] get out and run”, said Cards head coach Josh Cook.

The Cards built a double-digit lead at the end of the first quarter and outscored Paris during each period en route to a 39-point margin of victory.

“We just wanted to…get back in the win column. Come in, just play hard, and lock in on defense”, said senior guard Jerone Morton. “We’re playing very unselfish right now. That plays a big part of it. Everybody’s getting open shots.”

With 87 points, the Cards scored a season-high to date.

Morton led the charge with 29 points, while Trent Edwards had 25 of his own, and Sam Parrish added 15.

Edwards also led the team offensively with 16 rebounds.

In place of the injured Tyleik Maxwell, J.P. Gaines found himself in the starting lineup and came up with 5 points and three rebounds of his own.

“There’s things that happen. They’ve got to trust each other, and guys got to step up…I’m proud of them for doing that,” Cook said. “It makes your leadership grow, and we’re starting to see leadership in those moments.”

The Lady Cards varsity team plays again on Tuesday, Jan. 10, as they take on Bourbon County in Paris at 6:00 p.m. A game against Mercer County initially scheduled for Saturday was canceled.

The Cards return to action on Thursday, Jan. 5, at GRC Arena with a rematch against Great Crossing at 7:30 p.m. The Warhawks narrowly defeated the Cards 64-62 in overtime at the King of the Bluegrass Tournament on Dec. 18.