3 Former Hilltopper basketball stars named to Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame

3 Former Hilltopper basketball stars named to Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame

Three former star Hilltopper student-athletes have been named to the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame. WKU Alumni Association Member Darel Carrier (’64), Lifetime Member Mary Taylor Cowles (’92, ’04) and the late Charlie Osborne will be inducted during a ceremony this Saturday in Elizabethtown, Ky. 

Darel Carrier scored 3,148 points, including a 64-point game, during a standout career at Bristow High School. He was an All-American at WKU, where he once had a 50-point game, and broke WKU’s single-season scoring record with 26 points per game. Carrier excelled on the court for the Hilltoppers from 1962-64, scoring a remarkable 1,318 points in just 69 games in three seasons, the sixth-highest total for a Hilltopper cager at the time. His career scoring average (19.1 points per game) was the third-best for a WKU player at the time he completed his eligibility, and that number still ranks fifth among all Hilltoppers. In the American Basketball Association as a member of the Kentucky Colonels, Carrier averaged 20 points per game, led the league in 3-point shooting percentage and best free-throw percentage (89.19 in 1969-1970), was a three-time all-star team member and made the Top 30 All-Time Team. Carrier was the leading scorer in the World Tournament and won a Gold Medal in the 1967 Pan American Games, where he scored 32 points in a single game – a record that has not been broken. 

Mary Taylor Cowles, who starred at Marshall County from 1983-1987, scored more than 1,900 points and helped lead the Marshals to four consecutive KHSAA state tournament appearances. One of the tournament runs ended with the 1984 state championship and an undefeated season of 34-0. During her college career at WKU (1987-1991), Cowles scored 1,072 points, connecting on 49.9 percent of her shots. She also completed her career ranked in the top 10 on four of WKU's career statistical lists, including rebounds and blocked shots. She was also the recipient of the Western Kentucky Coaches’ Award in 1991. In addition, she was named the Most Valuable Player of the 1991 Sun Belt Conference Tournament and, as a senior that year, she was WKU’s Female Athlete of the Year, after helping lead the Lady Toppers to a Sweet Sixteen appearance in the NCAA Tournament. She was also involved in 10 of WKU’s 14 NCAA Tournament appearances -- as a player from 1988-1991; as an Assistant Coach in 1995, 1997, 1998 and 2000; and as Head Coach in 2003 and 2008.

Known as “The Horse” for his formidable size and physical play, the late Charlie Osborne led his Flat Gap, Ky., high school team to 60 victories over the 1956 and 1957 seasons while garnering All-State honors. He came to WKU in 1958 and developed into a two-time all-OVC athlete for Coach E.A. Diddle. Now, 44 years after he left the Hill, Osborne still holds school records for free throws made (511), free throws attempted (638) and free throw percentage (80.1 percent) in a three-year career. He completed his career with 1,359 points, the fourth-highest total ever for a Topper at the time. He also remains among WKU’s all-time leaders in career scoring average (eighth at 17.0) and career rebounding (11th with 806). As a junior, he helped lead the Toppers to an NCAA Tournament berth, pacing the club in scoring (17.8 points per game), field goal percentage (51.2 percent) and free throw percentage (80.1 percent). He also led WKU at the stripe both his sophomore (76.4 percent) and senior (83.4 percent) years. Following his career at WKU, Osborne was drafted by the Syracuse Nationals of the NBA and played one season of pro ball.  

Former Lady Topper Assistant Basketball Coach Kyra Elzy, who served at WKU from 2002-2004, is also a member of this year’s class of honorees to the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame.