Lady Cards push #1 Sacred Heart to the brink, Boys fall at Douglass

Published 3:00 pm Thursday, February 9, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

On Tuesday night, an oddity occurred as both the George Rogers Clark Lady Cards and Cards basketball teams found themselves falling in defeat.

However, what might have seemed like insurmountable odds for the Lady Cards (17-7) were nearly overcome.

In front of a GRC Arena crowd ready to see GRC take on the #1-ranked Sacred Heart Valkyries (24-3), the Lady Cards fell by the narrowest of margins in a 54-53 defeat.

Email newsletter signup

“We felt like it would be a 32-minute game, and it was. It came down to the last possession,” said head coach Robbie Graham. “[The] kids fought. [They] showed no quit.”

Throughout the game, the Lady Cards were supported by a raucous students section featuring both secondary and elementary students.

Early on, it looked like the Valkyries were in sync, as they hit their first four shots to take a 9-1 lead while GRC was challenged offensively in the first quarter.

Their lone first-quarter field goal came courtesy of a shot near the free-throw line by Brook Taylor, though seven Sacred Heart fouls allowed them to add 11 points off free throws for an 18-13 score.

However, in the second quarter, the Lady Cards’ offense began to gel thanks to the efforts of senior Brianna Byars, who led the team with 16 points.

Coming out of halftime down by five points, the Cards were able to narrow the Valkyries’ lead further.

Though heavily recruited sophomore ZaKiyah Johnson led Sacred Heart with 18 points, a stiff defense held the Valkyries to under 50% field goal shooting for the night.

With just over three minutes left in the contest, the Lady Cards took the lead for the first time in the game following a basket off a rebound by Ciara Byars, who finished with 15 points.

Though Sacred Heart regained the lead, the Lady Cards – down by one point in the waning seconds – grabbed the lead for the second time when Trinity Gay used the backboard and scored to give them a 53-52 lead with only 6.5 seconds remaining.

However, following a foul on the ensuing Valyries’ possession, leading scorer Triniti Ralston found the hoop on consecutive free throws with 4.1 seconds remaining.

GRC was unable to score, thereby leading to the final score.

While the Lady Cards might have taken many by surprise, Coach Graham also noted that strong play isn’t surprising.

“We’re not celebrating losing by one to Sacred Heart, because we felt like we wanted to win. We came to [the] game to win”,” Graham added. “We can play with anybody. I’m real, super proud of our kids for fighting. On to the next one.”

On the boys’ front, despite entering their contest against Frederick Douglass (22-2) with an 11-game winning streak, the Cards fell 63-52 to move their record to 18-5.

GRC – led by 15 points from Sam Parrish – took a 1-point, 32-31 lead into halftime.

However, the Broncos (22-2) would come out with intense defensive pressure, holding the Cards to only four points in the third quarter en route to an 11-point lead.

The Cards would narrow the deficit to five points before Frederick Douglass added to their lead in the final minutes for the final score.

Both teams will be out of town for their next game.

The Cards played on Thursday against Madison Southern (17-9) in Richmond. The score and stats were not available as of press time.

The Lady Cards follow on Friday with a 7:30 p.m. matchup in Alexandria against Campbell County (9-16).

Both teams will participate in a doubleheader on Saturday at GRC Arena, with the Lady Cards playing Nelson County (14-6) at 1:00 p.m. and the Cards taking on Lloyd Memorial (14-8) at 3:00 p.m.