PILLARS OF STRENGTH
“Really now, you’re kidding, aren’t you?”
“No, we’re not.”
This is what opposing teams might have said when they walked into the old 1927 gym at Bazine in eastern Ness County. The small floor was bad enough. But eight pillars lining the edge of the court, on the out-of-bounds line, well, that’s too much. Opponents just hated to play here.
Padded though they were, if you went in for a full-speed layup on the east end, you would have likely met your maker crashing into one of two pillars inside the free-throw lane. Oh, and the balcony. The three sides were even filled with concrete. Seats above and seats below. Backcourt lines edged the center circle. The 3- point line, added later, intersects the sideline even with the bottom of the free- throw circle. Shoot, the basketball court is only a couple of feet larger than the thirty-feet-by-sixty-feet volleyball lines. And this environment was for real until
1985, when a new gym was built.
JIM FRANK was superintendent, but was also a pretty good player on a pretty good Bazine team in 1967. They went to regional finals, one step away from state, two years in a row. They won league, the league tournament, district, won everything on a 21-2 team, ranked second in the state—except that regional final, which slipped out of their hands on a last-second shot.
Today the goals are gone for liability reasons, and it is remembered that the building was used for plays, music, as an auditorium, and a town meeting place. Jim Frank remembers that the graduating class of 2002 had ten students. The class of 2001 had four. With thirty-seven students in the top four high school grades in its last years,
Bazine was one of the smallest high schools in the state. So, Bazine’s schools united with Ransom.
One thing is clear. The old gym and the pillars aren’t going anywhere.