If you’re planning to go to Seymour on Saturday to watch the Center Grove boys basketball team play in the regional…
1) I hope you already have tickets, because you may end up very disappointed otherwise.
2) Even if you do, you should plan on showing up very, very early.
Ordinarily, there might not be such urgency surrounding a regional semifinal between the Trojans and Evansville North, which was super duper not expected to make it this far. But Romeo Langford and New Albany are playing in the second semifinal, which means “ordinarily” gets tossed into a wood chipper.
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New Albany played its sectional games last weekend in the same Seymour gym — which, with a capacity of 8,110, is the third largest high school gymnasium in the country. The crowds were standing-room only on both Friday and Saturday nights, and according to the Seymour Tribune, some fans started arriving at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, six hours before the doors even opened.
Rumor had it that $6 game tickets were being scalped for as much as $100; that was something I heard both at Greenwood and from out of Seymour.
Such tales would sound ridiculous in almost any other situation, because they kind of are. But this is Indiana high school basketball, and Langford is the state’s most ballyhooed figure since at least Damon Bailey. He’s been selling out just about every gym he’s played in the last two or three years, and the presumptive Mr. Basketball sits down at a table for about an hour or so after each game to sign autographs and take pictures.
And every bit of the hype is deserved. With the possible exceptions of Grant Hill and Paul Pierce, Langford is the best high school player I can recall seeing in person. He’s one of the most coveted recruits in the nation, and he’ll likely be a lottery pick in the NBA draft whenever he decides to enter it.
Langford currently ranks fourth on Indiana’s all-time scoring list with 2,900 points, and should he survive two regional games Saturday and advance to semistate, he’ll likely be in good position to eclipse 3,000 points and catch the next two players ahead of him on the list, Deshaun Thomas (3,018) and Marion Pierce (3,019).
The Bulldogs, who won a state title in 2016 are favored to win this weekend, but it’s by no means automatic. First, they’ll have to get past fifth-ranked Bloomington South, which hasn’t lost since December. A win there could set up a potential Saturday night showdown with the Trojans, who boast a superstar of their own in junior Trayce Jackson-Davis.
There aren’t many chances left to see Langford play high school ball; Center Grove is hoping it can make this the last one. So this should be one hot ticket — and it’ll be even hotter (and possibly a lot more expensive) by Saturday. So if you haven’t gotten yours yet and are determined to go to Seymour anyway, I would recommend hitting an ATM on your way there.