CARR CREEK HIGH SCHOOL WINS L.I.T.
WSGS – POWER 101 – HAZARD, KY
Carr Creek won the Louisville Invitational Tournament on January 26, 1963. At the time, Carr Creek was rated among the top five teams for most of the year. Louisville Seneca was rated number one. When Carr Creek was invited to the Louisville Invitational Tournament, the team left Knott County on the coldest day in Kentucky history. It was 16 below zero. There was ice on the inside of the school bus. Ernest Sparkman, who broadcast the games on WSGS, followed the bus to Louisville in his 1961 VW bug. With him was Jay Lasslo, who provided "color" comments on the radio during the tournament. WSGS provided East Kentucky with exclusive coverage of the tournament. The LIT was considered the most prestigious in-season tournament in the state. On many occasions, this tournament field was stronger than the state tournament. The team that won the LIT usually was rated number one in the state by the Litkenhaus ratings. To get to the finals, Carr Creek had to beat three strong teams in Louisville Shawnee, Louisville Central, and Elizabethtown Catholic. Only Louisville Seneca stood in the way of the LIT championship. Ernie Coyle and Bob White with the Louisville Courier Journal described the tournament:
"So, the Carr Creek Indians came down from the mountains and made believers out of skeptics. The Creekers of coach Morton Combs upset Seneca 46-45, to claim the title in the 16th annual Louisville Invitational Tournament. It was Seneca's first loss in 15 games. The final was played before 7,000 fans at Freedom Hall, climaxing what appeared to be the most successful of all LIT's. Two free throws by Wallace Calhoun, his only points in the game, were the only points scored by the Indians in the last minute and 46 seconds of the hectic encounter. Hard driving Lewis Couch, superb throughout the tourney, paced the winners with 22 points in the championship. After Seneca's victory over the highly regarded Owensboro, the general opinion seemed to be that the Louisville team would make short work of Carr Creek. Seneca owned a considerable height advantage over the 14th region team. 'I didn't see any way that Carr Creek could beat them," said Ernest Sparkman after watching Louisville Seneca play. Carr Creek's coach even sent his team to the hotel so they wouldn't see Seneca in the second game of the quarter finals. He felt the team would have been intimidated if they saw powerful Seneca. Carr Creek came to play in the championship game. Showing disdain for the vaunted power of the Redskins, Carr Creek elected to do what no other club got away with during the season - run with Seneca. The outfits slugged away on even terms in the first period and most of the second. During that span, the biggest gap between the two teams was three points. Moving into the final quarter, Carr Creek was still nursing a three-point advantage. Three more points by Couch, who was making life miserable for Seneca's Mike Redd, pushed the margin to six points late in the game. With five minutes to go, and Carr Creek leading 44-42, the well drilled Creekers went into a freeze. With a minute and 47 seconds to go, Couch fouled Seneca's Bruce Dalrymysle. Couch tumbled to the floor and broke his wrist. Carr Creek's star player was forced to leave the game. The score was 46-45 with one minute and 25 seconds to go. Seneca claimed a rebound and called time out with 56 seconds left. The Redskins held the ball for 42 seconds and called time again. Seneca elected to put everything into one last shot as Duggins fired from 25 feet with five seconds left. The shot missed and the ball came to rest in the hands of Reynolds of Carr Creek who was fouled as time ran out. Reynolds missed the free throws. Couch led the Creekers with 22 points, William Fannin had 10 and Glen Combs chipped in 9."
The victory over Seneca proved to be a costly one for Carr Creek. Lewis Couch, the team's star player who suffered a broken wrist in the championship game, missed the rest of the regular season. Couch had been averaging twenty-three points a game for the state's number one ranked team.
The Carr Creek coaches, Morton Combs and his assistant, Sprout Johnson, have a special memory of their LIT win over Seneca. After the game, Kentucky basketball coach Adolph Rupp came out on the floor to congratulate the team. He told the coaches and the team that it was the best played game that he had ever witnessed at the high school level. The loss of Couch probably was the biggest reason Carr Creek did not reach the Sweet Sixteen in 1963.