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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Buena Hits With Game on Line

A few dozen fans who are left out in the cold at the big game in Ventura get only a glimpse but root the Bulldogs to victory.

February 04, 2001|MIKE BRESNAHAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

VENTURA — Then there was the other game. . . .

Long before Buena High fended off Narbonne in a battle of the No. 1 and 3 girls' basketball teams in the nation, the jousting started outside the doors of the Buena gym.

Tickets were $5, but they were priceless to fans who tried to snare one.

If you waited to buy them at the door Saturday night, you were pretty much out of luck . . . and out of the gym.

Jim Shearman, a 74-year-old native of Niles, Mich., stood underneath a "Need 2 Tickets" cardboard sign he created when he realized demand was soundly defeating supply.

Shearman grew up a few miles outside South Bend, Ind., but never had trouble getting into football games while standing outside Notre Dame Stadium in the 1940s.

"Guys who came down from Chicago would say, 'Hey, kid, you want a ticket?' " Shearman said.

Shearman had no such luck Saturday night, watching the game through open doors in front of the gym.

Not two feet from him was Jimmy Thompson, a truck-driver from Oxnard who brought to the game his daughter, Jazzmine, a freshman on the Rio Mesa basketball team.

Like Shearman, he got no farther than the front door, despite his efforts to make a security guard at the back door $20 richer.

"He wouldn't go for it," Thompson said. "I wanted [my daughter] to see all these girls with all the hype. I wanted her to see the competition. We came early, but we came too late."

The gathering outside missed being part of a game that practically went without a hitch, despite concerns of over-crowding.

The biggest problem was the heat inside the gym, which caused a few spectators to feel light-headed. No treatment was administered. No other obstacles had to be cleared.

"The crowd is basically mellow," said John Turner, a sergeant with the Ventura Police Dept. "This isn't the type of crowd that causes concern."

Even the Ventura Fire Dept. had no complaints despite the gym being at its 1,400-person capacity.

Greg Abille, an inspector with the department, had two major responsibilities--to make sure exits were kept clear and to ensure the existence of "shuffle room," enough space for people to maneuver through the lobby.

He did have one other dilemma: Abille, a resident of Ventura, graduated from Narbonne in 1980.

"I don't know who to root for," he said.

It was obvious who the outdoor onlookers were cheering for. As Buena pulled away for a 71-61 victory, a roar erupted from the group of people, which had reached nearly 30.

They won't have a ticket stub to keep as a souvenir, but they could probably get by with saying they were at the biggest basketball game in region history.

Besides, they didn't have that bad of a deal, said Buena assistant principal Jim McAleney, as he looked outside from the packed inside.

"Those might be some of the better seats in the house in that it's not so stifling," he said.

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