Heartbreak and shock hit a Michigan high-school basketball court Thursday when, before hundreds of spectators, star player Wes Leonard collapsed and later died after making a game-winning shot in overtime to close his team’s perfect season.
Leonard, 16, of Fennville High went into cardiac arrest and became unresponsive after the game, say news reports. He was rushed to Holland Hospital at around 9:15 p.m. and pronounced dead 85 minutes later, according to hospital spokeswoman Deb Patterson. Cause of death has yet to be determined.
Leonard, an “outstanding athlete” (according to the other team’s coach) who scored more than 1,000 career points in his brief life, had just shot the winning layup in a 57-55 game over Bridgman High, to conclude Fennville’s 20-0 season.
“It’s tough to take in,” teammate Shane Bale told the local paper, the Holland Sentinel, which also reports that just before his collapse, Leonard was hoisted into the air by his teammates as an act of jubilation.
“Obviously, in the midst of celebration, I think shocking is exactly the word,” Fennville Superintendent Dirk Weeldreyer said when the ambulance arrived. “And certainly our deepest prayers are with Wes and his family.”
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