Carmichael leads Wolfpack to Richmond semistate

Friday, March 17, 2017
Levi Carmichael instructs a Thunderbird player during his brief tenure as Eastern coach.
File Photo

Once he shot the triple for Eastern and looked for the open Thunderbird.

Now he is trying to guide a team to the state championship as its coach.

Levi Carmichael, Eastern’s all-time leading scorer, and his Crawford County Wolfpack will take on Heritage Christian (17-9) at 6:00 p.m. Saturday in the second game of the Richmond Semistate. Should Crawford County win, the Wolfpack will play next Saturday for the Class 2A state basketball championship.

Crawford County takes a 21-6 record into the semistate. The Wolfpack hit a rough stretch in early December, losing three straight games, including a 48-39 defeat at the hands of the Clarksville Generals.

However, the Wolfpack is now riding a 12-game winning streak. Crawford avenged its loss to Clarksville, beating the Generals 41-38 in a semifinal of its own sectional; upset Providence, the top-ranked team in Class 2A basketball, 33-32 in the sectional championship, and whipped South Knox, winner of the Eastern Sectional, 48-32 in the Paoli Regional championship.

This is only Carmichael’s second season as the school’s head coach. He noted Crawford County has a great fan base, plenty of people who appreciate basketball and what it takes to create a winning program.

“You have a community that’s always passionate about basketball,” he said.

On Wednesday morning he and the players visited the elementary schools that feed into the high school. On Thursday afternoon the school conducted a community pep rally.

“That was great for our elementary students to interact with our high school students,” Hanger said. “There’s a lot of school spirit, a lot of community involvement. We’ve had to close a couple of schools. It’s great for athletics to bring them together.”

The Wolfpack is comprised of players who have bought into the formula for success, he said. The players concentrate on doing “the little things that don’t show up in the stats” -- working hard at their studies, taking charges, diving for loose balls, not turning the ball over, setting screens.

“Do the little things in and out of the classroom. We talk to them all the time,” Carmichael said. “There’s no secret sauce to success. There’s no special thing you have to do, being totally committed, being a good person.”

He added that he has greatly benefited from the advice and aid of athletic director Jerry Hanger who guided nearby North Harrison to several semistates.

“It’s been really good,” Carmichael said. “Having an AD in Jerry Hanger is awesome for a coach.

Carmichael scored 1,603 points during the 1997-2001 school years to become the all-time leading scorer at Eastern. The T-Birds finished 23-2 his senior year and won the school’s only regional championship and first Class 2A sectional in basketball. He went on to play college basketball at Austin Peay University.

Many of his fellow players at Eastern inspired him, Carmichael said, by teaching him how to work hard and how to be successful.

“There are a lot of people who have helped me as a player,” he said. “There are so many of them I can’t even list them. There have been so many people who have helped me as a player.”

However, he singled out Eastern Dean of Students Andy Igel for his assistance. Igel coached the Thunderbirds when Carmichael was shooting out the lights for them. Carmichael noted he served as Igel’s assistant before becoming Eastern’s head coach for the 2011-12 school year. He said Igel has had a profound impact on his life.

“I still talk to him two or three times a week,” Carmichael said. “He’s probably been the greatest influence I’ve had.”

From there he went to Bloomington North as a varsity assistant after being replaced by current Eastern Greene head coach Jon Neill.

Before he was hired at Eastern, Carmichael coached at South Central High School at Elizabeth and taught middle school at New Albany.

Prior to that stint, he served as a varsity assistant and freshman basketball coach for New Albany High School.

After his college days, Carmichael joined the staff at Olney (Ill.) Central College as an assistant while completing his student teaching. He returned to the Hoosier state a year later to coach the South Putnam junior varsity team for one year.

Following that position, he spent two seasons as an assistant coach under the tutelage of former Paoli coach Joe Hinton.

“There were many hours put in the gym,” Carmichael reflected, “but there were a lot of people (who’ve helped me).”

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