Clark County Special Olympians shines in Owen County competition

Published 12:35 pm Tuesday, February 6, 2024

On Friday, Feb. 2nd, at 5:00 p.m., Clark County KY Special Olympics basketball team played at GRC Arena to a full-capacity crowd, including the George Rogers Clark High School Band. 

Not long beforehand, they also excelled in competition outside of the county. 

On Saturday, January 27th, Clark County KY Special Olympics took home first place at the 2024 Rebel Run Tournament in Owen County. 

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“We are so proud to announce that our Clark County Cardinals are 2024 Rebel Run Tournament CHAMPIONS!” stated Clark County Public Schools’ (CCPS) Facebook page. “Congratulations to our amazing team.”

The team consists of students from Clark County Public Schools – ranging from grades five through 12 – that are chosen by various CCPS faculty members. 

Featuring multiple teams from different counties, the Rebel Run Tournament functions much as other sporting tournaments do. 

After winning their initial matchup to move into a winner’s bracket – one of approximately four to five brackets featured at the event – the Cardinals’ team won both contests to advance all the way through. 

According to Allison Conley, who serves as one of three coaches on the team and is a teacher of exceptional children at GRC, it’s the highest finish at the tournament in program history. 

“This is the first time we’ve ever won it!” Conley said. 

Besides Conley, the other two coaches on the team are Lindsay Wagoner and Lauren Whittaker. 

While the former serves as a teacher of exceptional children at Baker Intermediate School, the latter performs the same duties at Robert D. Campbell Junior High School. 

“We [competed] against teams from all over central Kentucky and northern Kentucky,” Wagoner said. “They all get to come together and play against each other, and they get to see teams that they might not always get to see if we stay here in Winchester.” 

Wagoner adds that, while results are nice to reflect on, witnessing how the players from GRC and other squads responded stood out. 

“Seeing how excited everyone was together to play and be competitive [was beneficial],” she said. “They all got medals at the end of the Tournament [and] they wore those all week at school.” 

As far as individual standouts, among many were Katrina Withrow, Derrick and Devon Clem, and Donte Barnett – who scored his first points in what’s set to be his last year with the program.

 Up next, the team will have a game on Thursday, Feb. 8th at 5:00 p.m. at Baker Intermediate School, and will also compete in a regional tournament on Saturday, Feb. 17th at the Sports Of All Sports complex in Florence. 

If they win a game, they’ll have an opportunity to play in the state tournament in Louisville. 

As noted by Wagoner, while the results are exciting, the community’s reaction is also meaningful. 

“The amount of support they’ve received this season has made all the difference in their engagement,” she said. “They have had something to really be proud of themselves about.”