Maryville, Tenn. — Imagine Duke University’s Cameron Indoor Stadium, only smaller. To take the ball out of bounds, some players had to stand on the front row of the bleachers. This was the setting of the last game played in the old School Street-Lincoln Park gym in Greenfield. And Mike Edwards put on a show.
The game of basketball was different in 1969, but Indiana loved it the same. Local fans packed the Greenfield Tigers’ (now Greenfield-Central) home gym for the last contest of the regular season against local foe Morristown.
The game also served as a tuneup for the New Castle Sectional just a week away, where a matchup loomed with Blue River. Greenfield beat Morristown 99-45 that night, but the score wasn’t important. What those in attendance saw has never happened again.
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Edwards, who estimates taking 50 to 60 percent of his shots from behind the arc, finished with 21 made field goals and a Hancock County record 57 points. Although in 1969, there was no 3-point line. Edwards, then a senior, hit 15 free throws and needed just 34 shots to hit the mark. He also didn’t play the final 5 minutes, 30 seconds of the game.
“The gym, I think, was built in 1927 and seated around 2,500 people,” Edwards said, who is now in his mid 60s. “It was a snake pit for opposing teams. All the seats came right down to the floor. It was tight. I walked to the gym every game the four years I played there. I would go past the post office, and of course you could see the lights of the gym. The windows were usually open, because it was so packed. The ‘B’ team (junior varsity) game was always sold out.
“I don’t remember specifics about the game, but I do remember I was taken out of the game (early). There was a little controversy about that in the town. I was in the race for the state-scoring record (points). I played the wing, and we had a one-guard front.”
The 57 points were just a chunk of his county-leading total of 2,343. Edwards scored in bunches and has four of the 10 highest scoring games in the county’s history. He torched Blue River for 42 points in the first round of the tournament that season and scored 43 more in the sectional championship win against Hancock Central the same day.
Greenfield then beat Muncie Southside at the New Castle Regional, one of the biggest schools in the state at the time, in the first game before eventually falling to Richmond.
The 6-foot-2 Edwards, rightfully known as the Greenfield Gunner, also has the second-highest scoring game in county history. He finished with 55 points against Franklin Central earlier his senior year and led the state in scoring, averaging 36.4 points per game. His final point total ranks above the likes of Hoosier legends Steve Alford, Shawn Kemp and Eric Gordon.
Greenfield played in the Hancock County Conference in 1969 with the New Palestine Dragons, the Charlottesville Eagles, the Eden Flyers, the Fortville Demons and the McCordsville Pirates — to name a few.
“Shooting was my best attribute, because that is what I worked on the most,” Edwards said, who started all four seasons. “Looking back, I wish I would have spent some more time on the other areas.”
As an avid hoops fan, Edwards said he sees a significant difference in the way the game is played today. The athletes are stronger now and have better all-around games. The focus was on shooting when Edwards played, and he still remembers picking up a ball whenever he could.
“All the teams in Indiana back then ran the ball up and down the court,” he said. “At the time I played, teams put a lot of points on the board. We put up 100 points in a sectional game that year. A lot of schools did that. Of course Rick Mount was up at Lebanon putting up big numbers.
“There is more discipline to the game now. They play more zone defense and are more patient with the basketball.”
If what Edwards says is indeed true, 11 of his shots against Morristown would have been worth three points. His total, with a 3-point line, would have been approximately 68 points. But that, of course, could be said for a number of athletes who played before the creation of the arc.
“It was definitely more of a perimeter game back then,” Edwards added.
John Hamilton of Greenfield-Central finished with 2,064 career points in 2000, but no other player has come close to surpassing 2,000 points.
Recruited by the Big Ten, Edwards instead headed south to play for Ray Mears at the University of Tennessee. He scored 1,343 points and was named co-SEC Player of the Year as a junior. After, Edwards was drafted by the Indiana Pacers and played professionally in Mexico.
Now, after a long career in teaching and coaching, Edwards lives in Maryville, Tenn. with his wife Debbie. Together they had one son. Edwards co-hosts a local sports radio show to keep busy and close to the sport he has always loved.
“Greenfield and Maryville are almost identical,” he said. “I am really happy here.”
Although he hasn’t officially played in several years, Edwards’ name has continued to surface. He was elected to the Indiana Baskeball Hall of Fame in 2003 and later to the Tennessee All-Century Team in 2009. And whenever a local athlete gets somewhere near his total, a look back at the record books sends a firm reminder: Edwards is still the best scorer in Hancock County history.
2343 — Mike Edwards, Greenfield (1969)
2064 — John Hamilton, Greenfield-Central (2000)
1463 — Keegan Carmony, Greenfield-Central (2004)
1447 — Dustin Smith, Eastern Hancock (2011)
1415 — Derek Harmon, Eastern Hancock (2003)
57 — Mike Edwards, Greenfield, Feb. 21, 1969, vs. Morristown
55 — Mike Edwards, Greenfield against Franklin Central
52 — Victor Vincz, Eastern Hancock, vs. Alexandria, Feb. 14, 2012.
50 — Kevin Bell, Greenfield-Central, 1981-82
50 — John Hamilton, Greenfield-Central, vs. Warren Central, Dec. 3, 1999.
47 — Gene “Tink” O’Neal, Eden, 1947 graduate
46 — Ryan Curry, New Palestine, Feb. 6, 2015 at Shelbyville
44 — T.J. Ott, New Palestine, Jan. 24, 1998 vs. Hamilton Southeastern
43 — Mike Edwards, Greenfield vs. Hancock Central, March 1, 1969 (sectional championship)
42 — Mike Edwards, Greenfield vs. Blue River, February, 1969 (Sectional first round game).