By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – During the 45 seasons and 1,047 games in Bedford North Lawrence’s grand history, only eight young men wearing the uniform have scored over 1,000 career points. That’s an exclusive club, a list that doesn’t include one of the Indiana All-Stars on the program roll call.
Junior guard Brayton Bailey is poised to add his name to the register.
With 4 points on Friday night, a likely scenario as the Stars (12-8) host New Albany (14-6) in BNL Fieldhouse, Bailey will write his name among the elite.
That list is topped by his famous father, who holds the state record, so it’s rather appropriate the son will make history on Damon Bailey Court, with Damon on the sideline as a BNL assistant coach. It’s basketball’s circle of life.
Damon, of course, set the standard with 3,134 career points. The rest of the list includes Kent Moutardier (1,469), Alan Bush (1,333), Braxton Day (1,233), Scott Turner (1,229), Joey Ray (1,112), Blaze Byrer (1,098) and Larry Ikerd (1,084).
“It’s crazy to think I will be on there forever, to hang on the wall with the other great players,” young Bailey said. “I’m just grateful. I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without my teammates. They’re the ones who get me the ball in a position to score. Without them, I wouldn’t have any of this.”
The 1K players preceding him are a diverse lot in terms of their abilities: Bush’s smooth perimeter stroke, Day’s lightning-fast slashing to the basket, Ray’s eye-blink release. Bailey’s way has not been as artistic. Since his 12-points, 11-rebounds debut against Brown County on Nov. 22, 2016, Bailey has been a fierce, powerful, relentless attacker of the rim, the reason his career shooting percentage is well over 50 percent.
None of the rest carried the pressure of following in Damon’s footsteps, to hear the constant, impossible comparisons. Brayton has never backed down.
“It blows me away, how good he was as a freshman to handle that,” BNL coach Matt Seifers said. “That’s just amazing, what we put him through.
“Now look at what’s he doing. His body is catching up to his brain. He’s able to do things that are just unguardable at times. With the maturity and approach he has, it’s unreal, to have that much poise and not let it get to him.
“To get to that number, it’s quite remarkable. And he’s only going to get better.”
Bailey, of course, grew up watching BNL basketball in all forms. His memories include the 2010-11 team featuring Alex Pritchett and Ryan Burton, plus the BNL girls teams captained by his sister Alexa and coached by his father. Bailey would often step into practice drills with that group, and Alexa cut him no slack. Probably toughened him even more.
When he arrived at BNL, he was ready. Brayton was often a pass-first, score-second penetrator, although that mode has changed as he matured. His jumper was a weakness, but he has worked to make it solid, evidenced by the mid-range shots he converted with ease during the latest win over Brownstown.
“I’ve been working on shooting, trying to get a good feel for it, trying to figure out all the kinks,” Bailey said “I’ve been waiting to be able to have that, now I’m trying to get it consistent.”
Bailey’s strength of game, and of character in the eye of an attention hurricane, has earned him admirers among opposing coaches. They respect his tenacity.
“He gets people off their feet,” New Albany coach Jim Shannon, who went through the hype circus with Romeo Langford the last four years, said. “You think you got him stopped and he finds a little seam, he gets between or jumps over it. I love watching him play. I don’t know that I love competing against him, but I do love watching him.
“His driving and getting to the rim, getting fouled and all the acrobatic moves at the rim are just like Damon. I know how great Damon was – and we’re not expecting Brayton to live up to that, no kid can – but I see little sparks of Damon when I watch him play. It’s kind of neat.”
Brayton has taken 69 games to reach four figures. Damon did it in the middle of his sophomore season. In fact Damon had 972 points during his senior season.
“That’s just crazy to think about,” Brayton said, realizing what it took for him to arrive at this point. “This gives me a good perspective.”
Bailey is currrently averaging 18.8 points. With continued success, and good fortune, he could climb to the ladder to second on the school’s scoring list. Nobody, at least not in his lifetime, is going to reach the top.
“My hope would be he finishes second to his dad,” Seifers said. “That’s something they could sit around and talk about forever.”