Legendary Eastern Kentucky High School Now an Emergency Supply Shelter
As an enormous fan of college basketball, you'd think I'd have visited both halls of fame dedicated to hoops, but you'd be wrong. That's one on me.
But maybe I ought to do a deeper dive and really dig into the rich, beloved history of basketball in Kentucky. Maybe I need to discover where "miracles" happened at the high school level. The Commonwealth has never been the focus of a basketball movie like Hoosiers, but it could have been. Hey, it still can be.
FROM A HIGH SCHOOL TO A COMMUNITY CENTER TO A SUPPLY SHELTER
In 1974, Carr Creek High School in Knott County closed for good as a school. It remained open from that point as a community center. And today, it's become an emergency, makeshift headquarters for supplies as folks struggle to deal with seemingly incessant rain and flood waters. The way communities are coming together and relying on each other--and KNOWING that they can--is inspirational.
And so is a wonderful story about the history of Carr Creek that dates back nearly a century. Again, here's a story I SHOULD know but actually never heard until recent events allowed it to unfold once again.
THE SPECIAL HISTORY OF CARR CREEK HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Carr Creek High School holds a special place in Kentucky basketball lore and its story begins in 1928 with the state championship. That year, tiny Carr Creek High--there were only 18 boys in the entire school--made it all the way to the state championship game before losing to nearby Ashland in quadruple overtime. Yes, it was heartbreak city, as Dick Vitale might say. Still, no less than Will Rogers wrote about them.
Morton Combs played for Hazard back in the early 30s, and in 1932, he led that school to the state championship. As fate or history or whatever would have it, Combs would become the coach at Carr Creek High. In 1956, the former state champ (as a student) became a state champ again, but this time as a coach. And what a memorable game it was.
A MEMORABLE 1956 CHAMPIONSHIP
Carr Creek's opponent in that final game was Wayland High School, which today is temporarily closed. It's just south of Prestonsburg. Back in 1956, a Kentucky high school basketball legend named King Kelly Coleman broke records right and left. Coleman was a dominant force on the Wayland team.
But despite all the heroics, Wayland fell to Carr Creek in the semifinals 68-66. Carr Creek would go on to beat Henderson in the championship 72-68.
Certainly, this would make a great movie, but the story isn't terribly different from the one on which the classic Hoosiers was based. Still, it's nice to evoke a great piece of Kentucky sports history, a piece of history that many might not ever have heard.