Lady Cards capture 40th District crown; boys continue through tournament

Published 4:50 pm Thursday, February 29, 2024

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The postseason of high school basketball has started and – amidst all the nerves – there has also been reason for excitement. 

With this year’s 40th District Championship Tournament taking place at GRC Arena, plenty from the community came out to cheer. 

Fortunately, the hometown fans were left with much to celebrate. 

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The Lady Cards (27-4) captured their 11th consecutive 40th District crown, while the Cards (28-2) defeated Montgomery County en route to the 40th District Championship game on Thursday night. 

On Monday night, the Lady Cards got the tournament started when they took on the Paris Lady Greyhounds (7-21). 

While GRC entered the game as heavy favorites, the Lady Greyhounds’ Brooklyn White – who would later be named to the All 40th District Team – contributed 21 points to help Paris get off to an early lead. 

However, it wouldn’t last long. 

With nine players finding the scoreboard – including 19 from freshman Kennedy Stamper – the Lady Cards built a convincing double-digit lead and moved on to a 79-40 victory. 

Senior Makili Tabor delivered 10 points, entering double figures for the first time this season. 

“We were a little slow coming out in the beginning, but we got ourselves together,” she said. “In the end, we played like GRC…I was just looking for the open area today and doing what my team needed me to do.” 

Two nights later, the Lady Cards were back in action against an opponent they knew well. 

The Montgomery County Lady Indians (20-7), who had defeated Bourbon County on Monday night to advance to the 40th District Championship Game, came to Winchester with hopes for an upset victory on their minds. 

Led by 15 points from Youngstown State commit Hayden Barrier, named the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches’ 10th Region Player of the Year, the Lady Indians kept the score close early on and stayed within striking distance as GRC led by just nine points at halftime. 

However, the Lady Cards’ would come out strong to start the third quarter. 

Opening with a 12-0 run, the team quickly built a 20+ point lead, and kept the momentum en route to a convincing 68-43 win. 

It is their 11th consecutive 40th District Championship. 

“We wanted to pressure them [defensively], get some turnovers, [and] get some easy baskets. I felt like we did that at times…we changed up some things in the second half and went to a different [half-court] trap. It caused some problems for them.” said GRC Head Coach Robbie Graham. “We knew it was going to be a tough game. I’m happy for our kids. Our kids played hard and competed.” 

Helping to lead the way on offense once more was Stamper, who finished with a game-high 24 points. 

“I’m really thankful to my teammates for sharing the ball. It’s not only about me scoring,” she said. “I just stuck with my team. I’m glad we pulled out that [victory] tonight.” 

While the Lady Cards defeated the rival Lady Indians Wednesday night, it wasn’t the only time GRC and Montgomery County clashed during the week. 

On Tuesday night, in a 40th District semi-final, the Cards and Indians (11-18) faced each other with the winner moving on to the Championship Game and the other’s season coming to a conclusion. 

As could be expected, both the home and visitors side of GRC Arena were packed with fans anticipating a battle between two long-time adversaries. 

The Indians made it interesting early on, as Ethan Dunn and Breccan Decker tied for a team-high 14 points to help the team stay within striking distance, trailing by six points at halftime. 

However, with a balanced offensive attack that saw senior Breland Morrison lead the way with 19 points and a second-half defensive blitz that led to multiple points off turnovers, the Cards pulled away for a 73-47 victory. 

“We just came in looking to get a good team win,” he said. “[I] just [wanted to] stick to what I know and what I can do.” 

Coming off the bench, juniors Eli Craig and Maddox Campbell combined for 16 points. 

“[The] bench was phenomenal tonight. I thought that was a huge difference tonight. The bench came in and did their job exactly [as] they were supposed to do,” said GRC head coach Josh Cook. “This time of year, you can’t really critique a whole lot. You just want to win games and move forward.” 

Later that evening, Bourbon County (13-14) defeated Paris to move on to the 40th District Championship Game on Thursday night. 

The Cards entered the game as favorites, with the outcome not yet decided as of publication. 

In addition to team honors, several individuals from both squads were recognized. 

For girls’ basketball, Stamper, junior Jailenn Green, sophomore Teigh Yeast, and junior Ciara Byars – who has been out since January with an ACL injury – were named to the All 40th District Team. 

For boys’ basketball, Morrison, senior Reshaun Hampton, sophomore Malachi Ashford, and freshman Montez Gay were named to the All 40th District team too. 

Following Tuesday night’s victory, Stamper, Yeast, and sophomore Anaya Chestnut were named to the 40th District All Tournament team. 

The draw for the 10th Region Tournament, which both the Lady Cards and Cards wil advance too, will take place at Harrison County High School on the morning of Saturday, March 2, at 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. respectively.