By RON O’BRIEN
It was a modest ceremony last Thursday night, Feb. 20, that Knott County Central and the Board of Education put together to honor the basketball career of native son Glen Combs. Nothing especially flashy or elaborate. But it was just right.
Some said the recognition was long overdue for a man who had gone on to such a stellar basketball career at Virginia Tech and in the professional ranks of the American Basketball Association, far from the hills and hollows of Knott County. Some didn’t know the history, and were surprised to learn a person from here actually did that.
And perhaps, somewhere in the crowd as they watched and listened, a young man or woman quietly harbored their own dreams of basketball glory. It was that kind of night.
Highlights of Glen’s career were read to the crowd, and summarized on a plaque David Adams presented to him on behalf of the Board of Education: Member of the Virginia Tech Hall of Fame; three time ABA All-Star; league leader in three point shooting; 7,666 points scored in seven professional seasons; “The Kentucky Rifleman.” One of Glen’s professional uniforms sat displayed in a shadow box behind him at center court. It will be placed in the Knott Central athletics trophy case to acknowledge his prominent place in county basketball history.
Like the man, however, this night was about more than uniforms and statistics. Joining Glen on the floor was Marsha, his college sweetheart and wife of over 40 years; one of their two sons, Chris; and Glen’s sister, Susan Hammack. Scattered through the stands were old teammates and old classmates, come not only to honor Glen but to remember with him another place and time. Their time.
Yes, it was that kind of night, too – a night when family and friends, teammates and tradition, high goals, hard work and home all mattered.
Fifty years ago Glen was learning about those things from his coach and father, Morton, up on Carr Creek Hill. On Thursday night, as he stood with family at center court of the Morton Combs Athletic Complex, everything seemed to have come full circle.
“We had our time,” Glen told the crowd. “Now it’s Knott County Central’s time.”
We will remember Thursday night because the KCC Lady Patriots defeated Hazard; because the boys’ team went on to best Shelby Valley; because we saw a new all-time scoring record established; and because Knott County’s seniors were given special recognition. Thursday night truly was Knott County Central’s time.
But we will also remember that night because we were privileged to honor a fine ball player and an even finer man – Glen Combs.
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