Cards win rematch against Broncos to advance to state championship game

Published 4:38 pm Saturday, March 18, 2023

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The Lakers and the Celtics. The Warriors and the Cavaliers. The Cards and the Dragons.

Sports history is filled with classic championship rematches. Saturday night at Rupp Arena will be no different.

The George Rogers Clark Cardinals (30-5) will play the Warren Central Dragons (34-1) at 7:00 p.m. Saturday night for the KHSAA state championship in a rematch of last year’s game, which GRC won by a narrow 43-42 score.

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The Cards earned the right to do so after defeating the Frederick Douglass Broncos 51-44 in a rematch of a regular season contest on February 7th.

The Broncos (33-3) won that game 63-52 to hand the Cardinals their last regular season loss.

“I think we won by heart”, said Head Coach Josh Cook. “It’s a grind sometimes…but these guys stepped up to the moment.”

After a slow start one night earlier against Lyon County, the Cards wrote a different tune Saturday afternoon.

Opening up the game on a 9-2 run, the Cards led 15-8 at the end of one quarter.

Following a back-and-forth second quarter that saw each team score 13 points, GRC took a 28-21 lead into halftime.

However, the Broncos – who scored the last five points of the first half – used some momentum coming out of the locker room for the second half.

While Kai Simpson and Armelo Boone led the team with 13 and 12 points, the Broncos defense created trouble for the Cards.

GRC was limited to three points in the third quarter via a Tyleik Maxwell three-point shot with 6:21 remaining.

Trailing by two points at the end of the period, the Broncos took a two-point, 33-31 lead with 5:07 remaining after a pair of free throws by Tylon Webb.

Yet just when it seemed like the Cards’ offense might go cold, it caught fire.

Reshaun Hampton delivered a 3-point field goal on the ensuing possession to give the Cards a 34-33 lead.

After keeping the Broncos offense off the scoreboard, Sam Parrish and Jerone Morton each scored while being fouled and delivered on the ensuring free-throw attempt.

Morton, whose play gave the Cards a 40-33 lead with three minutes remaining, came on a dunk that saw the Cardinal crowd rise to its feet in celebration.

“I’d seen where [the defender] was flat. I knew he was going to take the lob for Trent [Edwards], and I was like, ‘Why not? I’m going to get fouled’”, said Morton. “Luckily, it paid off in my favor.”

The Broncos narrowed the lead down to four with 2:19 remaining.

However, a layup by Trent Edwards and six consecutive free throws by Morton put the game out of reach.

For his efforts, Morton led the team in scoring with 20 points.

Sam Parrish, who finished with 13 points, led the team with seven rebounds.

In a supporting role, J.P. Gaines picked up a rebound while playing 7 minutes.

“Credit them for hitting big shots and making big plays down the stretch”, said Frederick Douglass Head Coach Wes Scarberry.

Of the ten players likely in the starting lineup for tonight’s matchup between George Rogers Clark and Warren Central, seven – including Morton, Edwards, and Parrish – are returning starters from last year’s game.

“They’re very good. They’re very well coached. They’re very athletic”, Cook said. “[However,] I’ll say this about my guys – they want to compete, and I love competition just as well. We’ll be here at seven o’clock tonight, and we’re going to chase it again.”