RDC hoopsters capture conference crown

Published 11:00 am Saturday, February 18, 2023

At the end of the 2022-23 GRC boys basketball season, five seniors – including four in the starting lineup – will bid farewell to their time in a Cardinal uniform.

However, that doesn’t mean Cardinal fans need to fret about the future.

The 8th-grade team at Robert D. Campbell Junior High School recently finished as Bluegrass Conference Southern Division Champions and Bluegrass Conference Tournament Champions and advanced deep into the Kentucky Basketball Commission (KBC) 8th Grade State Championship Tournament to conclude with a 30-2 record.

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“We were undefeated in conference play,” said Dwaine Gay, the 8th-grade head coach at Campbell. “We want to make sure kids are being developed across the board, and winning usually comes in hand if we’re developing.”

The Bluegrass Conference Tournament featured competition between six teams, with #1-seeds Campbell and Woodford County Middle School in Versailles receiving a bye.

As the games started, Campbell found itself pitted against a slew of opponents from the area.

They defeated the Georgetown Middle School Buffaloes in the quarterfinals, followed by a victory against the Royal Spring Middle School Titans to reach the final game.

In that matchup, they would overcome a solid Woodford County Tiger squad to earn the title of conference champions.

For Gay, watching the team develop and handle the task at hand is a joyous sight.

“[We’re] really pleased with the kids’ attitudes throughout the season. Everybody worked hard for the whole year,” he said. “One of the biggest assets is our team chemistry and the way we shared the basketball.”

Such strengths led to playing solid team defense and being proficient offensively when shooting the basketball.

Several key players stood out for the Cards.

At 6’3”, Montez Gay – who has since seen some time playing junior varsity basketball for the GRC boys basketball team – is one of them.

Not only is he the son of Coach Gay, but Montez is also the younger brother of Lady Cards’ senior Trinity Gay and grandson of playing and coaching legend Larry Gay.

Haddon Cecil, described as a “really good shooter” and “good on the ball defender,” is another.

Another name to remember is Abe Mullins.

“He just plays hard the whole time. [You] don’t have to push him to play hard”, Gay said. “He’s just really competitive.”

After winning the Bluegrass Conference Tournament, the Cards advanced to the 2023 KBC Boys 8th Grade State Tournament featuring 75 teams.

They defeated West Hardin, Powell County, and Elliot County by a combined 83 points before being defeated by Northern Pulaski.

It marks a record of success for Robert D. Campbell Junior High School’s basketball programs.

“We’ve had a lot of success since consolidation we’ve had two runner-ups at the KBC state championships,” Gay noted. “We’ve won the Southern Division at different grade levels and also tournament championships at different grade levels.”

As students move from middle to high school, they look to carry the same mentality that made them successful.

“The scrimmages that we had in practice were really competitive,” Gay said. “You could see kids competing and wanting to become better basketball players.”