Western Kentucky high schools shelve rivalries to stand with Marshall County

McCracken County and Carlisle County athletes and students formed a prayer circle before their boys basketball game Tuesday night.
McCracken County and Carlisle County athletes and students formed a prayer circle before their boys basketball game Tuesday night. WPSD sports director

Across Western Kentucky on Tuesday night, rivalries and competition were put aside as high school athletes and students demonstrated support for Marshall County High School.

Marshall canceled its basketball games Tuesday after the shooting that left two 15-year-old students dead and 14 wounded by gunfire, but the games went on throughout the rest of the state.

Moments of silence were held before most matchups, including McCracken County High School’s game against Carlisle County.

Marshall County is the second-largest school in its high school athletics region, behind only McCracken County, its neighbor to the southeast. They are rivals in most sports.

Before the boys basketball game, players, coaches, cheerleaders and athletes met at midcourt for a moment of silence and a prayer, according to WPSD sports director Jeff Bidwell.

It was in McCracken County where Heath High School student Michael Carneal fired 11 shots into a group of classmates, killing three students and wounding five. Heath later consolidated with McCracken County High School.

Lexi Rudy, a McCracken County graduate, documented the Lady Mustangs basketball team wearing orange and blue shoelaces, Marshall County’s colors, in honor of its rival, whose team name is the Marshals.

Carlisle County cheerleaders dressed in orange-and-blue shirts.

Two other rivals, Calloway County and Murray, played. The student sections for both schools agreed before the game Tuesday that they would wear Marshall’s colors.

Students of Murray, whose colors are black and gold, instead wore blue in the student section. Calloway County students, typically clad in red and blue, wore orange.

Cheerleaders from the two schools banded together for a chant to honor Marshall, shown in a video from Avery Greer.

“MCHS — We love Marshals,” the cheerleaders said after spelling out the school’s initials with their pompons.

At Ballard Memorial High School’s game against Hickman County, players, students and cheerleaders joined hands around the perimeter of the court for a moment of silence for the shooting victims.

Just as at McCracken, Ballard players wore orange and blue shoelaces, according to senior player Leah Shelley.

Other area schools, including Union County, Mayfield and Graves County, alsoshowed support.

The solidarity continued Wednesday morning. At Paducah Tilghman, a large prayer circle was organized in front of the school.