The student news site of George Rogers Clark High School

Smoke Signals Student Media

The student news site of George Rogers Clark High School

Smoke Signals Student Media

The student news site of George Rogers Clark High School

Smoke Signals Student Media

WinCity, Hoops continue to craft dominating legacy of excellence

Throughout history, we’ve learned to classify and identify groups of people based on the clothing that they wear and habitual characteristics.

Take the Han Dynasty, for example. Clothed in multiple layers, long sleeves, muted colors, and silk, their members tackled advancements that ultimately laid a strong foundation of success for the Dynasty’s years to come.

Similarly, a branding that might ring a bell for the citizens of Winchester consists of white threads, black trim, and red and black lettering accompanied by five letters spelling “Cards” on the front of the jersey.

The ones who wear these uniforms walk onto the court and their discipline, motivation, and commitment to basketball demands your attention. The current basketball teams at George Rogers Clark High School blaze a trail of well-earned fame for subsequent seasons.   

WinCity Basketball 2023-24

WinCity reloads toward success

Since the conclusion of the ‘22-’23 season, the WinCity basketball has been hard at work assembling a strong team. The coaching staff saw what impact the 2023 graduating class had on the team and prepared for the change.

“Obviously, as a coach, I want to be here long-term so I have to look at the program and make decisions on what’s best for several years down the road,” says NFHS Coaches Association State Award winner, Josh Cook. “We played a good summer schedule, we had a great off season. I try to do my best to make a style of play that fits this team to the best of their abilities.”

Since rebuilding, the team has adapted to a new dominion on the floor. Players who once listened to mentors are now sharing their wisdom in basketball with their team.

“Guys are stepping up and learning to embrace their roles,” says Cook. “It’s a lot of responsibility to be a leader day in and day out.”

The 10th Region’s growth during the off season promises competition and rivalry.

“The region is always solid, always good,” says Cook. “Mason, Montgomery, and Campbell counties will be very good. Obviously, these teams have had some additions that will make the region more competitive.”

Approaches to coaching evolve and develop based on the current team.

“Every year, you have to adapt to personalities,” says Cook. “Each kid grows, changes, their situations change, and their mindsets change. As a coach, you have to adapt and keep learning the players and who they are.”

As a fresh set of eyes to WinCity, Breland Morrison, testifies that GRC’s coaching staff is the greatest contrast to other basketball programs.

“I like to say the coaching separates GRC basketball from other teams,” says Morrison. “Coach Cook is a very smart coach that knows what he’s doing out there. When he expects things out of you, even if it’s not your fault, he’s gonna make it your fault. I just got used to him expecting a lot out of me.”

The team has spent a lot of time concentrating on defense and buying into their roles on their court.

“We’re learning to gain experience with some of the overall youth we have,” says Cook. “It’s really important that we do a good job of giving these guys the chance to grow and improve.”

The coach says the players need to improve their dialogue while fluency in ball movement is a strength.

“We haven’t been communicating well, but that’s an easy fix,” says senior captain Reshaun Hampton. “We run plays well and set good screens to get guys open.”

Since the start of the season, players have noticed remarkable strength in intangible attributes. They stand 11-1 heading into the Jan. 2 matchup with Paris.

“Our team has improved by clicking more and gaining more chemistry,” says senior captain JP Gaines. “We trust each other when times are tough and we are losing, knowing that our team will make the right play. We know that we have each other’s backs.”

Although the season is young, the team’s focus remains on success come March. With a plethora of experience in achievement during the postseason, Cook realizes the standards that lead to success need to be set now.

“The expectations are still the same for us as far as continuing to play our best basketball in the postseason,” says Cook. “We’re gonna talk about it, we’re gonna set expectations but really it’s about development. I have to try and find the best style to help this team get better throughout the year and have a chance come March.”

GRC Hoops 2023-24

Hoops gameplay pressures competition

GRC Hoops’ domination acclaims their distinguished gameplay.

This season’s captains, senior Makili Tabor and junior Ciara Byars, lead by example and utilize communication to earn the respect of their teammates.

“They work extremely hard,” says Hoops’ winningest coach Robbie Graham. “They’re good leaders. They talk a lot. They’re very vocal and are positive leaders. Their work ethic shows, so kids follow their lead because of how hard they both work.”

New players on the Hoops team have quickly learned the team’s key to achievement.

“A staple of our program is hard work,” says Graham. “When people step into the gym, they know they have to work hard because everybody in the gym is going to give their max effort. They don’t want to be the ones sticking out like a sore thumb and not working hard, giving max effort.”

For some who enter a program, learning the ropes is a tedious process. For additions to Hoops, it’s natural.

“It takes a little while to get our system,” says Graham. “It’s not as simple as it looks from sitting in the stands. New players are picking it up well; they’re learning.”

Despite having a team with new players, veteran players, and players who moved from JV to varsity, the coaching staff hasn’t had to expend many efforts emphasizing the importance of unity on and off the court.

“As far as cohesion goes, we’re a very close team,” says Graham. “We’re doing some things away from basketball to help our growth. Our girls do a great job of being a close-knit group.”

In recent events, harmony within the team has beamed.

“With us, it’s bigger than basketball,” says Graham. “The team really helped me get through a tough time of my life and that’s family. To be around my team and our coaches has helped me get through this time. We want everybody to know that we’re there for each other.”

As the season progresses, Hoops plans to keep practice intensity at an all-time high to maintain an elite level of gameplay.

“Traditionally, people play hard,” says Graham. “But, for the most part, we rely heavily on our practices. As far as motivation and intensity, it carries over to games because of how hard we work.”

In these practices, the team is breaking down the basics.

“Right now, we are working on our full court press and our offensive sets,” says Tabor. “As a team, we hope to speed up the other team and force turnovers so we can get fast break layups defensively. We hope to score easier off of strong offensive sets.”

The team stands 12-1 and ranked in the top two in Kentucky heading into 2024. Their only loss came to a top-ranked team out of Georgia.

Thought Hoops came into this season with an end goal, Rupp Arena is on the back burner for now. The team is honing in on current business.

“The end game is win championships and cut down nets,” says Graham. “But we take it one game at a time. We don’t want to look ahead to anybody.”

As captain Byars steps into the position of a leader, she’s observing what it will take for the team to succeed in March. Until then, Hoops shares a focus on upcoming competition.

“Our biggest focus this year is to ‘keep the main thing, the main thing,’” says Byars. “We’re taking it game by game, accomplishing our team goals and we’ll see where we end up in March.”


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About the Contributor
Allee Mullins
Allee Mullins, Multimedia Staff
Threescore and five years ago marked the start of the world's best program: Smoke Signals. I, Allee Mullins, have had the honor to be a part of this program for the last year, and the year to come. Smoke Signals is built on news, creativity, friendships, and the best potlucks. You may know me as the girl with the camera, but I often have caffeine in my hand too. Peace, love, and Smoke Signals.

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