While March Madness college hoops has commenced, with brackets yet to be busted, Hoosier Hysteria has taken full effect at the Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium during the past three weeks.
Following the Class 4A Sectional 15 at Seymour, Seymour High School hosted three regional games this past weekend — and none of the contests disappointed Saturday.
It was estimated by Seymour tournament director and former athletics director Mickey Beck that more than 9,500 people were in attendance at Seymour during the span of the day.
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“We have a great facility,” Beck said. “The people that help and work these jobs have done it for a long time. It takes a lot of people that are dedicated. It’s a great place to play a ball game.”
In the early games, No. 1 New Albany won in an overtime contest against Bloomington South and Evansville Reitz came back from a 25-points second half deficit to defeat Franklin Central.
The regional finals that night then showcased one of the most talented players in the state, New Albany sophomore Romeo Langford.
Langford, who has more than 1,200 career points and is considered by many to be one of the best players in Indiana, dropped 37 against Reitz in the finals to help the Bulldogs earn their first regional title since 2008.
Beck said that there were between 5,500 and 6,000 people at each of the regional games.
In order to accommodate fans, players and officials at the third-largest high school gym in the country, Seymour plans for the events far in advance.
“They let me order the tickets in January or at the end of December,” Beck said. “When I used to mark them, it took a lot longer. Now with general admission, it takes down on the amount of time. I then start parsing them out. Once the drawing is made, you have a sectional meeting with the schools and the following Monday you go over the regional. You then work on the semistate.”
Current athletics director Brandon Harpe said the postseason tournament helps local businesses.
“It’s a ton of work but also a lot of fun,” Harpe said. “We don’t make much money off it like people think. The regional and semistate have a lot of the money go to the IHSAA. However, we think it brings a lot of people into our community who eat, shop and use our hotels. We think it’s really good for the community.”
Harpe said that Reitz came Friday night, staying at local hotels in preparation for their regional game the next day.
“It takes a lot of planning from year to year,” Harpe said. “We try to make sure all the schools know the gameplan before they get here. We have a huge media presence now, and Jay Hubbard, from Nash Icon, helps with all of that. Ticketing is a huge deal, and Mickey Beck is in charge of that and has done a great job for years.”
About 50 people work the games, including eight custodians, eight supervisors and 25 concession workers at five stands.
Owls coach Kyle Clough said that Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium is a special place to play.
“That atmosphere at (Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium) is hard to beat,” he said. “When you see 8,000-plus packed in there to watch a high school basketball game, it gives you chills. As a coach or player, you dream of playing in those games in front of those types of crowds.”
Clough said he emphasizes to his team how fortunate they are to have Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium as their facility.
“I often talk to our players during the off season about that. I think sometimes growing up here, they take for granted how special of a gym that is and how many people dream of just getting to play there once,” Clough said. “They get to practice and work there every day. I feel lucky that we get to call that our home gym. Our kids at all levels are working hard to get themselves in one of those packed houses during tournament time soon.”
This Saturday, Seymour will host the Class A semistate between Bloomfield and West Washington at 4 p.m. and Class 3A matchup of Tri-West Hendricks and Evansville Bosse at 6 p.m.
Beck said there could be between 7,000 and 8,000 people at each of the semistate games.