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Sistersville’s Carse Retires After 39 years

By Staff | Mar 22, 2017

Photo by Ed Parsons From left, longtime friends and classmates Bill Wright, Steve Hadley and bottom Hardin-Simmons men’s basketball coach Craig Carse talk shop prior to the Sweet 16 game in Marietta.

SISTERSVILLE – Sistersville native Craig Carse, who made it big as a collegiate basketball coach, has called it quits after 39 years. Carse who graduated in 1974 from Sistersville High School and holds degrees from Bethany College and West Virginia University was in town two weeks ago along with his Hardin-Simmons NCAA Division III basketball team for a meal at the famed home town Dairy Queen.

“Some of my fondest memories as a youngster growing up in Sistersville was going to the Dairy Queen following a good workout on the park’s outdoor basketball court. It is where I grew up and where I came to love the sport. Swimming in the park pool and playing pickup ball and summer leagues was what summer was all about,” said Coach Carse.

His senior year in high school became one for the record books as the storied team led by Coach Ray Barnhart raced out to 19 straight victories before traveling three miles up Route . 2 to Paden City and dropping their final regular season game to the Wildcats a team they had beaten earlier in the year. As things would have it, the two teams met again in the sectionals with the Tigers knocking the Wildcats out and advancing to the sectional finals against a strong Pennsboro team which they defeated 72-69.

The Tigers then advanced to the regional finals, where they met up with Barricksville which held a 65-64 advantage with under 10 seconds to play. Sistersville had the ball and on a drive to the bucket a foul was called putting the Tigers in a 1-1 situation. Rumor has it that Coach Barnhart called a timeout and told his best foul shooter Carse, to go to the line, instead of the player who was fouled. Carse stepped to the line unnoticed by the opposing team or the referee’s and calmly sank both shots, giving the Tigers the lead 66-65 and sending them to the state tournament in Charleston.

Once in Charleston the 23-1 Tigers drew a first round game against Marsh Fork which handed Sistersville their second loss of the season 66-52, putting an end to their storied season. Carse and teammate Steve Deaton were both later chosen first team all-state in basketball. Carse, who had interest from several schools, chose Bethany College, where he lettered for four years. Basketball was not his only game, however, as he was also a scholar who graduated Magna Cum Laud with honors and immediately enrolled at West Virginia University where he earned his master’s degree.

While working towards his masters at West Virginia his first position as a coach was in 1977-1978 as an assistant at his alma mater Bethany an NCAA Division III school. That season the Bison captured the Presidents Athletic Conference and advanced in the NCAA national championship game.

From 1978-1983 Carse was a primary assistant and lead recruiter at Salem College. During his time with the Tigers they climbed to the top of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Conference with 26 wins in 1983 while participating in the NAIA national championship game.

In 1983 Carse was named the head coach at West Virginia State University where he stayed until the end of 1987. While at State his teams went 79-48, including a 57-8 mark in his final two seasons. His teams were at the top of the nation in scoring and played in the NAIA’s 50th National Championship game in 1987. He was named the West Virginia College Coach of the year for 1986-87. Four of his players went to NBA camps with Ron Moore becoming a selection of the New York Knicks.

In 1987 Coach Carse became an assistant to Dale Brown at Louisiana State University. There he became the lead recruiter of six McDoanld’s All-America players and seven NBA selections which included Shaquille O’Neal a first round pick and third round pick Chris Jackson. Coach Brown called Carse “the best recruiter in college basketball.” LSU climbed to a number one ranking while Carse was with the team. One of Carse’s recruits ironically was David (D) Bosley from small school Paden City, WV. the same school who handed his high school team their first defeat in 1974.

Carse left LSU in 1994 and took a position as executive-vice president of the United States Basketball Academy where he worked for a year during the development of the academy’s campus and programs. He was then offered a job as the head coach at Montana State University in Billings where he led his teams to four NCAA Division 11 tournament berths and four conference championships in the Pacific West and Heartland Leagues. He coached at Montana State for 13 years where he had three players earn All-American honors and 19 all-conference selections. From 1995-2006 his teams won 142 home games with less than one loss per season. In 2005 he suffered a serious stroke but came back to coach three more years.

He became head coach at Hardin-Simmons University in 2008 and is in his ninth season at the Abiline, Texas school. While coaching the Cowboys his program owns the American Southwest Conference records for 3-point field goals made in a game and in a season. He has had 19 players named academic all-ASC and has coached an ASC player of the year. Carse has had an All-American, all-region, all-conference and players of the year with national scoring leaders at the NCAA I, II, III and NAIA levels.

In 2011-12 he led Hardin-Simmons to the most wins in the Division III era with 21. He also guided HSU to six ASC Semifinals and three championship games during the last six seasons. His 2014-15 team was the ASC regular-season co-champion with a 20-7 record.

Many of his former players and staff have gone on to become professionals as players and coaches with NBA GM’s, NBA, CBA, ABA, NCAA I, II, III, NAIA and Junior College head and assistant coaches.

Carse has become a noted speaker and clinician. He has lectured and taught the game of basketball nationally and internationally. His stoops include working in all four time zones including Alaska and Hawaii in the United States, Europe, Australia and the Philippines. He has represented the United States with the certification of coaches in Europe and at the Super Cup in Berlin, Germany. He has also coached and worked with the Chinese national teams.

Carse has been a highly successful and respected coach at all college levels and while at Hardin-Simmons he often speaks how his teams came together and what they went through to achieve greatness. This season they advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a thrilling 109-103 win over Lagrange sending Carse back to the Ohio Valley to meet up with old friends and family as HSN moved on to the Sweet 16 at Marietta, Ohio.

Two of Carse’s closest friends and classmates from his childhood days and remaining till the present time, Steve Hadley and Bill Wright, had this to say about their hometown hero.

“One of Craig’s greatest qualities is his love of the small town he grew up in. He has never forgotten his roots and where he came from.” According to Wright, Carse is always quick to talk about his days on Oxford street and the football, basketball and whiffle ball games on the South Penn lawn.

“We remember the day we got into the lime pile at the train station. We brought back buckets of lime to line out our field (South Penn Lawn) at Oxford Stadium,” stated Wright and Hadley. The days were spent playing in the piles of old wood and tin by Mr. Masters building along with many other wonderful memories. These memories remain today as important to Craig as anything he has ever accomplished in his coaching career, which seems hard to believe because he has achieved so much.

“We see Coach Carse as the small town boy who made the big time yet never forgot his roots, and continues in his faith and love for his family and friends and Sistersville, West Virginia.”

All of this was evident as a large contingent of hometown followers gathered together in Marietta prior to Coach Carse’s final collegiate basketball game and were in attendance to root on the Hometown great.

As the old saying goes, “All good things must come to and end” this is one time that may not hold true as Coach Carse will be spending time with his family and becoming a coach and mentor to his grandchildren.

One thing that can be said about Craig Carse is he’s not one dimensional. Coaching was his career but teaching was his passion. Academics are very important to Carse as his impressive credentials prove. He has taught on the undergraduate and graduate levels in the areas of psychology, biomechanics, exercise physiology and kinesiology. That along with Legendary Coach Dale Browns, remarks lauding Carse as the most knowledgeable recruiting expert that he has met prove his worth as a caring human being.

Carse has not only coached at the college level for 39 years but is also celebrating 39 years of marriage to another hometown product, Leslie (Buck) Carse, who was a cheerleader for the Tigers when Craig was a player. Together they have two children and two grandchildren.

In 1974 the Tyler Star News honored Craig Carse as their athlete of the year award and 43 years later it is our pleasure to once again honor Craig Carse with a well deserving story for his accomplishments in life and his contributions to Tyler County.