LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — A northwestern Indiana high school basketball team whose tournament game was postponed after its bus overturned had its championship dreams dashed Wednesday.
The Griffith Panthers were eliminated from the competition for the Class 3A championship by Marion on a last-second basket.
Gage Pinkerton’s shot with 1.2 seconds left capped a game that saw Griffith go ahead by as many as nine points, only to ultimately fall 60-58. Griffith was one game short of its second straight title game.
Earlier Wednesday, the Panthers got a boost from fans who lined the streets of their hometown to cheer the team as the players, some still showing the effects of the accident, rode off in their chartered bus to the game.
The playoff game was postponed after Saturday’s accident in which a car sideswiped the bus, which rolled into a ditch along Interstate 65. A Griffith assistant coach was hospitalized with a punctured lung and broken ribs. The other 26 players and staff members on the bus were treated and released.
“I feel so bad for the kids for what they went through. We were concerned six hours ago who we were going to put on the floor,” said coach Gary Hayes.
The approximately 5,000 Griffith fans cheered loudly as the clock ticked down.
“We fed off of them,” senior Martin Schiele said. “We just love the Griffith fans.”
“They’re an incredible ball club,” said Marion coach James Blackmon of Griffith. “To experience what they experienced and to come out and fight and play the game they played, my hat’s off to them.”
Griffith finished the season 25-4.
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