As Romeo Langford poured in the baskets last Saturday in Richmond, one man watching from the bleachers could close his eyes and recall a similar scene exactly 33 years earlier.
Sam Alford was coaching New Castle’s team in the afternoon game of the Indianapolis Semistate at Hinkle Fieldhouse on March 19, 1983. That day, Alford’s son Steve torched Broad Ripple for 57 points in a 79-64 win.
“Oh yes,” Sam Alford said when asked if Langford’s 46-point performance at the Richmond Semistate seemed familiar. “You tend to drift back to your days coaching. The thing about (Langford) I’m amazed with is – wow – he’s only a sophomore.”
Steve Alford’s 57-point game remains one of the best individual performances in the history of the tournament. Only two players – both from the days when there was a center jump after every basket – scored more in a tourney game: Brazil’s Bill Zeller scored 58 in a 1915 first-round sectional game and Washington’s Roy Burris matched him in a 1921 sectional game.
But Alford’s 57-point game remains the standard. It didn’t come as that much of a surprise, either. Alford, a senior who would go on to win IndyStar Mr. Basketball, averaged 37.1 points a game that season and finished with 1,078 points for 1982-83, a mark that remains one point behind Dave Shepherd’s single-season record set for Carmel in 1969-70.
“It was probably Steve’s best game in high school,” Sam Alford said of the Broad Ripple game. “But he’d scored 56 before and 53 in a game (during the season).”
Of course, that was without the 3-point line. Alford made up for it with his machine-like free throw shooting. He was 25-for-25 from the line against Broad Ripple and finished his high school career – New Castle lost to Connersville in the semistate championship – with 51 consecutive made free throws. Alford was 286-for-303 (94.4 percent) from the free throw line as a senior.
Like Alford and some of the other great Indiana high school players through the years, Langford is generating a buzz. New Albany loves him. Fans want to see what he does next.
“He has qualities of the best players,” Sam Alford said. “The thing that makes him so unique is that he can score in so many different ways. He can shoot the 3-pointer, but also on drives and putbacks. He’s such a weapon.”
Howe coach Mosi Barnes had never heard of Langford until last week. His team was preparing to play Providence in the Class 2A semistate game at Richmond and he started watching film of Providence versus New Albany from the regular season.
“Two minutes into the film, I’m like, ‘Who is this No. 1 kid? Who is that?’ ” Barnes said. “To get close to 50 points in the semistate game — man. What better time to do it than in a venue like that and game of that magnitude?”
Including Alford, only 11 players have scored more points than Langford in a regional championship or beyond in the tournament. Here are the other 10 performances at a glance:
Ron Bonham, 1960: The Muncie Central star scored 53 points in a 112-65 pasting of Middletown in a regional championship game at the brand-new New Castle Fieldhouse. Bonham, who would go on to win Mr. Basketball that year as a senior, hit 20 field goals and 13 free throws. Muncie Central was a prohibitive favorite to win state but lost to East Chicago Washington in the state championship to finish 28-1.
James Blackmon Sr., 1983: It was a duel for the ages as Marion senior James Blackmon scored 52 points in the afternoon game of the state finals at Market Square Arena. But Anderson junior Troy Lewis scored 42 and the Indians knocked off Marion 89-87 in double overtime. Blackmon shattered the state finals scoring record, which had been 40. Connersville went on to defeat Anderson 63-62 that night for the state championship.
Damon Bailey, 1988: Bailey was a sophomore for Bedford North Lawrence when he scored 51 points to lead the Stars to a 91-68 win over Jeffersonville for the Seymour Regional championship. Bailey broke his own school single-game scoring record, which had been 47. He was 17-for-22 from the field and 14-for-15 from the free throw line. Bedford North Lawrence made it to the state semifinals, losing 60-53 to Chandler Thompson and Muncie Central.
George McGinnis, 1969: McGinnis was a senior who would go on to win Mr. Basketball and lead the Washington Continentals to a state championship. He scored 49 points in a 96-65 win over Jac-Cen-Del in the Indianapolis Semistate championship game at Hinkle Fieldhouse. McGinnis was 20-for-34 from the field and 9-for-11 from the free throw line. Jac-Cen-Del had upset Richmond in the afternoon game but was overmatched against Washington.
Grayson Flittner, 2006: In a Class A regional championship at Frankfort, the Tri-Central senior scored 48 points in a 77-71 win over Lafayette Central Catholic. Flittner averaged nearly 30 points a game for Tri-Central, which finished as state runner-up. He is No. 17 on the state’s all-time scoring list with 2,198 points.
Terry “Archie” Fuller, 1990: Unranked Anderson upset third-ranked Gary Roosevelt 84-77 in the afternoon game of the Lafayette Semistate as Fuller, a 6-foot senior guard, scored 47 points. Glenn Robinson, then a junior, scored 22 points for Roosevelt. Fuller was 7-for-11 from the 3-point line and 16-for-25 overall from the field. Fuller, nicknamed “Archie” for his high-arcing shot, led Anderson to the state semifinals before losing to Concord.
Kojak Fuller, 1993: Fuller, a 5-7 senior, matched his older brother with 47 points in the championship game of the Indianapolis Semistate at Hinkle Fieldhouse. It came in a loss, however, as top-ranked Anderson fell 71-62 to fifth-ranked Ben Davis. Fuller was 18-for-36 from the field and 8-for-9 from the free-throw line.
Jim “Goose” Ligon, 1962: In the championship game of the Fort Wayne Semistate, the 6-7 Ligon scored 47 points in a 73-70 win over Elkhart. The senior led Kokomo to the state semifinals that season before losing 74-73 to East Chicago Washington. Ligon was 20-for-31 from the field against Elkhart. The 47-point outburst followed a career-low seven points in the afternoon game against Huntington.
Rick Mount, 1966: Lebanon needed all of Mount’s 47 points in a 65-64 win over Logansport in the opening game of the Lafayette Semistate. In front of a sellout crowd of 9,600 fans at Purdue, Mount was 19-for-38 from the field and 9-for-11 from the free-throw line. He scored 20 points in the fourth quarter. His storied high school career ended that night in a 59-58 loss to East Chicago Washington.
Luke O’Neill, 1993: The 6-7 Columbus North senior scored a career-high 47 points as the Bull Dogs defeated Whiteland 74-64 in the championship game of the Columbus Regional. He was 19-for-26 from the field and 9-for-11 from the free throw line. Columbus North lost the following week to Ben Davis in the semistate opener at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Call IndyStar reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.