Cards show multiple ways of winning in 2-0 start

Published 9:59 am Thursday, December 7, 2023

With four of last year’s starters graduating, there was some uncertainty about the George Rogers Clark Cardinals headed into the 2023-24 season.

If their first few games are any indication, the four-time defending 10th Region Champions are ready to pick up where they left off.

Coming back from a twelve-point third-quarter deficit, the Cards defeated Campbell County 63-60 in Alexandria last Friday night, followed by a dominant 70-43 victory against Madison Central in Richmond on Tuesday.

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The Cards, with sophomore Malachi Ashford and freshman Montez Gay in the starting lineup and senior Christian County transfer Breland Morrison, entered Friday night’s game to a hostile Campbell County crowd, with many of their fans eager to see an upset.

Though the Cards led 15-13 at the end of the first quarter, the Camels were not intimidated.

Led by thirteen points each by seniors Connor Weinel and Nathan Smith, Campbell County built a four-point halftime lead, which was extended to twelve points early in the third quarter as they hit a trio of three-point shots to open the third quarter.

However, the Cardinals proved that they would not go away.

As he did to end the second quarter, Ashford – who led all scorers on the night with 22 points – gave GRC some momentum with a two-point basket in the final seconds of the third quarter to narrow the deficit to 47-43.

Chipping away at the Camels’ lead, the Cards finally broke through with 2:07 remaining as Morrison – who finished with a double-double – laid in a two-point basket for a 57-56 lead.

It was the Cards’ first lead since early in the second quarter.

Of Morrison’s thirteen points, six came in the final moments when called upon.

Down by three, the Camels had one last opportunity to score, but the Cards’ defense delivered a stop.

“I can not stress how good this was for us,” said GRC head coach Josh Cook. “For us to be in those types of situations and to be in a very strong environment, we showed some toughness.”

Just days later, the Cards found themselves in Richmond to take on Madison Central – another environment and opponent that has provided a challenge in recent seasons.

While Madison Central took the early lead, it wouldn’t last.

Led by twenty points from senior Reshaun Hampton, the Cards built a 20-point halftime lead and rolled to a convincing 70-43 victory.

All five Cardinal starters – Hampton, Morrison (12), Gay (12), Ashford (11), and senior J.P. Gaines (11) – scored in double figures.

Coming off the bench, junior Maddox Campbell scored his first four points of the year as the team shot nearly 50% from the field.

The Cards face Pendleton County in their home debut on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.