EUGENE, Ore.--A South Eugene basketball game became a remembrance Wednesday night for two high school students.
A ceremony was held before the game to honor Connor Ausland and Jack Harnsongkram.
The South Eugene High School seniors died Saturday on the Oregon coast. A wave snuck up on them and dragged them into the ocean. The students were on a retreat to Yachats with other finalists for South Eugene's "Mr. Axeman" pageant.
In front of the largest crowd in over a decade, over two thousand people and standing room only, the Axemen performed a tribute much bigger than basketball, honoring a friend and a teammate.
Amid cheers and chanting students and friends from schools across Eugene remembered the lives of Conner Ausland and Jack Harnsongkram the best ways they knew how.
"It has Jack's name right here or Jack's last name and then Conner's," said Zack Esrig, pointing to shirt on his back.
Esrig, a former classmate of Connor's in the schools French Immersion program, attends many home basketball game, but this one was a different. "Just seeing so many people come together and really unite over these two really great boys."
Even those who didn't know them personally--grieving at their core.
"I knew two of Jack's very best friends," said classmate Dylan Stasack. "To imagine the pain that they're going through along with their families and just everyone who's close to the two of them--its just overwhelming."
Now Conner's jersey rests as a permanent tribute behind the south basketball hoop inside the "Purple Pit", looking on as the Axeman would win a fitting and likely most memorable game in school history.
"I think everyone here will just be remembering the good times they had," said Joe Kler who went to elementary school with Ausland.
Ausland's memorial service is Monday at 3:00 p.m. at Temple Beth Israel. Students say they will meet at the South Eugene High School gym and walk to the temple together.
Jack Harnsongkram's service will be later this month. Sunday, Feb. 27, at 1 p.m., inside South Sugene High School's auditorium.