Big ticket Bailey

Fans leaving Seymour’s Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium were being swarmed by the masses that awaited them outside.

During the Damon Bailey era from 1986 to 1990, there was not a hotter ticket in Indiana than a Bedford North Lawrence High School basketball game. Actually, if you include Bailey’s two years at Shawswick Middle School, he and his high school teammates played in front of sellout crowds for six years.

With Bailey becoming an iconic figure with a statewide following, all eyes were on the school in Lawrence County. Of course, Bailey did not disappoint, as he led BNL to the 1990 Indiana state championship and became Indiana’s all-time leading scorer along the way with 3,134 career points.

During Bailey’s sophomore year in 1988, I called the Seymour Regional on WMPI radio, a station out of Scottsburg. The regional was sold out with more than 8,000 fans packed into the Seymour gymnasium.

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In the first morning game, Jeffersonville beat Floyd Central, and in the second game, BNL beat New Washington, setting up the championship game for later that night between Jeffersonville and BNL.

After the BNL-New Washington game, I saw something I had never seen before and don’t think I will ever see again at the high school level.

As soon as the game was over, BNL fans rushed the New Washington crowd, wanting to buy tickets from the fans that were not going to return that night and then resell them to BNL fans that did not have tickets.

While this rush of people set off some anxious moments, it was nothing like what awaited them outside the doors of the gymnasium.

As I got up from my seat, I walked over to the stairwell and looked outside through the windows and saw thousands of fans out on the lawn. And I do mean thousands, not hundreds.

At first, I didn’t realize what was going on, but it didn’t take long for me to catch on as I watched the madness from the safe confines of the gymnasium.

Fans leaving the gym were being swarmed by the masses that awaited them outside, and many of the fans that didn’t sell their tickets on the inside were quickly selling on the outside, as tickets were being sold for $100 apiece, a lot of money for a high school game and especially in 1988.

Before the championship game started that evening, I talked with an Indiana State Police trooper who told me at least 4,000 people had been outside waiting on the lawn that morning hoping to buy tickets.

As far as the game went, basketball fans were not disappointed, as Bailey was phenomenal, scoring 51 points in the game and leading BNL to the championship. Not bad for a $100 ticket.

Mike Barrett is a local resident with an interest in history. His Backroads Indiana columns appear regularly in The Tribune. Send comments to [email protected].