EAST LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) - Grand Haven High School students are on a rollercoaster of emotion, after the ladies basketball team won the state semi-final game, the same day five students were seriously injured in a car crash on the way to the game.
A teacher told 24 Hour News 8, 300 students traveled to the Breslin Center by bus, and an estimated 500 more drove separately to Friday's game.
Most of the students told 24 Hour News 8 they had heard about the crash through the grapevine--Facebook or text messages--but a few saw it firsthand.
A parent said just a few minutes before the crash, the girls passed the school buses. They were waving and cheering. But just minutes later the girls got in the wreck, and at least one bus came upon the crash immediately after it happened.
"When we were driving by and the traffic was stopped we saw the car was on the other side of the highway so we didn't think it was one of our students [at first]," said parent and teacher Joe Nelson. "It was scary."
School officials identified the students as Brittany Olds,16; Madison Case, 17; Hannah DeVecht, 17; Emily Bogner, 16; and 16-year-old Danielle Michaels.
Immediately after the game, a flood of blue and gold came out of the Breslin Center. Students said their feelings were bittersweet. They were happy about the state semi-final win, but solemn and sad about the crash.
A circle of students spontaneously crowded around a tree outside of the Breslin Center after the match. One girl called for a moment of silence for the five girls in the crash. After, several students formed a prayer circle in honor of the girls.
One student in that circle said he thought he spoke for everyone when he said," we would give any number of victories for the safety of our classmates."
Freshman Amber Keefe echoed those sentiments.
"We're praying for them. And they're definitely in our thoughts," said Keefe. "It's not going un-thought of just because of the great win or anything--they're in our thoughts heavily."
Keefe went to the game to cheer on her her older sister. She described the mood in the student stands as "solemn and sad" when everyone first heard what had happened.
The girls on the Lady Buccaneers didn't know about the crash until the game was over and won.
The team's coach, Katie Kowalski-Fulmer, said they wanted the girls to be able to focus on the game, but they also didn't have any details to pass on at that point.
They went immediately from the thrill of victory--to the reality that five of their friends were injured.
Kowalski-Fulmer said the five girls are friends with most of the girls on the team, and one of the victims had played in the basketball program for the previous two years.
"They all instantly burst into tears and kind of lost it a little bit as you would be expected," Kowalski-Fulmer said.
24 Hour News 8 did not talk to the players per the school's request.
"This is a big weekend, but it put things into perspective, this is just a basketball game," said Kowalski-Fulmer.
Many students plan to head to the state championship game Saturday at the Breslin Center. Buses will again leave from the school to bring fans to East Lansing.
"We just want to play for them right now," said Kowalski-Fulmer. "And just have strength and try to focus on what we can control and go out and give it our all."
A Grand Rapids woman has been charged in the death of her 5-month-old baby who died of accidental asphyxiation.
A Fremont car dealer faces eight felonies after allegedly tampering with odometers on used cars.
Kent County authorities are looking for an inmate who walked away from a work assignment Wednesday.