GRC’s state title links the past to the present
Cardinals claim crown like predecessors of 1951
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Dreams came true last Saturday for the GRC Cardinals. For the first time in 71 years, a boys basketball team from Clark County played in and won the Sweet 16 state championship. In many ways the past met the present in Rupp Arena.
It took more than seven decades but the dream was finally realized again in Winchester. Before the finals, head coach Josh Cook was reminded of the 2021 state tournament when the Cardinals lost to E’Town in the Elite 8.
“All of the pictures from last year, at the Elite 8, the one where Jerone (Morton) hugs me, the one where Aden (Slone) hugs me and Jerone breaks down. I got a chance to see that today,” said Cook. “It was a chance for me to make sure that in my mind I wanted to do everything in my heart to make sure to give these guys the best opportunity possible.”
GRC led the state in scoring at 84 points per game blowing out opponents by an average of 33 points a night. But, to capture the Commonwealth’s Crown, the Cardinals had to grind out their last three wins by a total of nine points and doing so scoring 30-to-40 points below their average.
“Yeah, I mean the whole season we were just smackin’ everybody”, said point guard Aden Slone. “And I think that was fun because it got us our top ranking but you know the games like this are what proves it. It might seem more deserving but it’s proving what we already knew and that’s that we were on top the whole time.”
Let’s not forget the defense either. The Cardinals held Perry Central, Pikeville and Warren Central to season-low scoring. In many ways, GRC was a team of destiny and Cook agreed.
“You gotta sacrifice. If you sacrifice, in the end, you will be rewarded and that’s why we’re state champions.”
Back in 1951, the GRC predecessors of Linville Puckett, Lewis Snowden, Bobby Haggard and company were the pre-tournament favorites and they lived up to the billing. The same can be said for this Cardinals team finishing the year 37-1 and did not lose to a team from Kentucky.
Prior to the Sweet 16, tourney MVP Jerone Morton stated what has to be fact after winning the title.
“I think they will probably say we’re the best team ever to go down in GRC history. (If we) win out from right here, losing one game, I think that would definitely be in the category and being the best team in GRC history.”
You can’t argue with that and I’m sure, somewhere, Letcher Norton and the ‘51 Cardinals are smiling in agreement.
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