Cards and Lady Cards each fall to state’s top-ranked teams

Published 3:58 pm Monday, February 12, 2024

It’s rare that a team plays what many consider to be the #1-ranked team in the state. 

It’s even rarer when two teams from a school do it on consecutive days. 

Yet in the second weekend of February, such an opportunity arose for George Rogers Clark High School’s basketball programs. 

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Despite valiant efforts, both the Lady Cards and Cards fell to the respective #1-ranked teams, gaining plenty of experience that could help them for the coming postseason. 

“Our kids competed. They fought like heck,” said Lady Cards’ head coach Robbie Graham, following the team’s loss to Sacred Heart. “There are things we can correct [and] things we can get better at. It was a fun, fun game to be a part of.” 

“Our kids played hard [in] definitely a big-time matchup with a really good basketball team,” said Cards head coach Josh Cook following the team’s loss to Great Crossing. “We had some really good possessions, and we had some possessions where we kind of let the game get away from us. It’s a lot to grow from and learn from.” 

With both teams on the road, an energetic home crowd from the opposition awaited. 

Playing the three-time defending state champion Sacred Heart Valkyries at St. Xavier High School on Friday night in a rematch of last year’s Final Four, the Lady Cards encountered early trouble as they fell behind 7-0. 

However, a 10-2 run – punctuated by senior Makili Tabor’s three-point play – gave the team their first lead of the contest. 

Throughout the first half, in a game that saw six lead changes, the Lady Cards continued to battle – trailing by only one point at halftime. 

By the end of the third quarter, they had tied the score at 38, led by 15 points from junior Jailenn Green. 

However, with early turnovers and scoring from Sacred Heart’s seniors ZaKiyah Johnson (19 points) and Reagan Bender (16 points), the Valkyries pulled away for a 61-49 victory. 

One day later, the Cards traveled to Georgetown to take on top-ranked Great Crossing in a matchup of two one-loss teams. 

They grabbed an early lead and, following a back-and-forth first quarter, trailed by only three entering the second. 

However, with the Warhawks’ juniors Vince Dawson scoring 24 and 7’1” Malachi Moreno adding 15 – as well as 11 points being contributed off the bench by L.J. Holman – they pulled away for a 15-point halftime lead. 

Despite 13 points from sophomore Malachi Ashford and 12 from senior JP Gaines, the Cards were unable to rally as they lost by a 73-53 score. 

Following the losses, the Lady Cards’ record stands at 23-3 while the Cards are 24-2. 

Their win totals were added to earlier in the week, with the Lady Cards holding off a strong rally from a competitive Christian Academy-Louisville team to prevail 62-59 on Tuesday night. 

“We’re pushing the ball a lot better and definitely taking open shots and getting it to open teammates,” said freshman guard Kennedy Stamper postgame. 

After the Cards defeated Frederick Douglass 56-50 on Tuesday night, they held off a rally from a strong Madison Southern team on Thursday night for a 72-54 victory on what was Coach Cook’s 40th birthday. 

Senior Breland Morrison, who finished with 20 points, passed 1,000 points scored as a high school athlete. 

“I’m just proud. I’m glad I reached it,” he said. 

The Lady Cards’ season continues on Tuesday, Feb. 13th, with a 7:30 p.m. home game – their final of the season – against Paul Laurence Dunbar (10-13). 

The Cards will continue their season on Thursday against Scott County (8-19).