In the minutes and hours after the school bus carrying the Griffith High School boys basketball team overturned on Saturday, Griffith coach Gary Hayes wasn’t thinking about basketball. When he finally did, he assumed the season was over.
“I didn’t think we’d play,” Hayes said. “It was just like, ‘Wow, what happened?’ ”
Griffith was on its way to Lafayette for a Class 3A semistate game against Marion on Saturday when the accident occurred just after noon. On Sunday afternoon, administrators from Griffith and Marion agreed to move the game to Wednesday at Lafayette Jeff. The game will tip at 6 p.m.
Hayes said any earlier than Wednesday probably would not have worked. All 27 of the passengers – 21 students and six adults – were taken to area hospitals. None of the injuries were life-threatening, but Hayes said two of his top seven players suffered injuries that could put their status in doubt for Wednesday.
“I don’t know of anybody who can’t play yet,” Hayes said. “But we have kids who are banged up. The doctors said give it 48 more hours and we should see some improvement.”
The accident occurred when a driver spilled a drink on herself and sideswiped the bus. The bus turned over into a ditch at the 230½ mile marker on I-65 near DeMotte.
Freshman coach David Garrett, 68, was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oaklawn, Ill., where he remains in stable condition. Hayes, 69, said the coaches probably suffered more serious injuries than the players.
“Probably because of our age,” he said. “We’re all a little beat up. My lower back, knee and shoulder were banged up pretty good.”
Hayes credited the Marion administration for its willingness to work with Griffith on a reschedule date. The winner of the game between Griffith (25-3)and Marion (21-7) will play Evansville Bosse (18-10) on Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the Class 3A state final.
“Marion has been super classy,” Hayes said. “A first-class program. A couple of their administrators even came to the hospital.”
If possible, Hayes said Griffith’s players will just have a workout in the swimming pool on Monday and potentially have a walk-though practice on Tuesday.
This is the second consecutive year that Griffith has been in an odd situation in March. Last year, the team had its season cut short by the IHSAA after an on-court fight against Hammond. A local court overturned the decision, however, and Griffith made a run all the way to the state finals before losing to Guerin Catholic.
“After what happened last year and now this?” Hayes said. “Impossible.”
Evansville Bosse is also in an unusual situation. The Bulldogs won’t know their opponent until Wednesday night.
“We’re treating it like a sectional or regional where you scout multiple opponents,” Bosse coach Shane Burkhart said. “First off, our thoughts and prayers are with the Griffith players. We hope they all recover and have their full complement of players.”
Burkhart said his team found out about the Griffith crash while en route to Seymour for its semistate game against Tri-West, a 74-71 double-overtime win. Burkhart, a Marion grad, then began receiving messages from friends.
“We were probably 40 minutes from Seymour, on our bus, when we found out,” Burkhart said. “So unfortunate.”
Burkhart said his coaching staff “probably will” attend Wednesday’s game in Lafayette.
Call IndyStar reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.