A magnificent, huge structure sits abandoned in a residential neighborhood close to the downtown area of Seymour.
It is the old Shields Gym and from 1940 to 1970 was home of the Seymour Owls basketball team and the Seymour Sectional. When Seymour opened its new gym in 1971, there was no longer a need for Shields. So now, it’s vacated and a welcome attraction for vandals.
The basketball history here is incredible, and the goals from the last game played in 1970 are still in place, as are the close to 4,000 permanent wooden bleacher seats.
In the last game ever played here, Seymour beat Jennings County 84-83 to win the sectional. That year, the Owls were undefeated in the regular season before losing in the semistate and finishing with a 25-1 record. The team was led by stars Rick Mousa and Baron Hill and coached by Lloyd E. “Barney” Scott.
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In 1969, Scottsburg and Seymour played a regular-season game at Shields that is still talked about to this day by people from both communities. With the governor of Indiana in attendance and the Scottsburg Warriors undefeated late in the season, perhaps the wildest game ever played there unfolded.
Scottsburg led 100-98 at the end of regulation, but Hill was fouled on the last shot of the game. Hill, just a sophomore, made both free throws in front of a wild, standing-room-only crowd, sending the game into overtime. Scottsburg eventually won the game 110-104, as Billy Mac James led Scottsburg with 48 points.
The most infamous moment at this gym also involved Scottsburg, but out in the parking lot and not in the gym.
When Scottsburg won the 1968 Seymour Sectional, an upset Seymour fan threw a can of tear gas onto the Scottsburg fan bus, creating a scary scene. As distressed students became ill and frightened, emergency vehicles from the area raced to the scene. Indiana State Police troopers took control, and some Scottsburg students were rushed to the nearby Schneck Memorial Hospital.
Scottsburg resident Monty Craig was an eighth-grader in 1968 and was on the fan bus, and he was one of the students taken to the hospital. He said the Scottsburg fans were very jubilant, as it was their first win against Seymour in years. This riled Seymour fans, who came out to the bus, and then out of nowhere, someone threw the gas canister.
Craig said he had trouble breathing, and that’s why he was taken to the hospital. Eventually, an arrest was made, but the situation fueled an intense rivalry to greater limits, for sure.