March 3: Teammates hoist Wes Leonard up after he hit the game-winning basket as the Fennville (Mich.) Blackhawks celebrate their victory against the Bridgman Bees, bringing their record to 20-0.AP
Wes Leonard, pictured in this Facebook photo, died Thursday after making the game-winning shot to cap his basketball team's perfect season.
A western Michigan high school basketball player collapsed on the court and later died after making the game-winning shot to finish off his team's perfect season.
Wes Leonard, a 16-year-old Fennville High School basketball player, died Thursday night, Holland Hospital spokeswoman Deb Patterson said. The medical examiner says that Leonard died from an enlarged heart.
"It's tough to take in," Leonard's teammate Shane Bale, told The Holland Sentinel. "It's like somebody from your family, you know?"
Paramedics performed CPR on Leonard before he was pronounced dead at the hospital, Patterson said.
Leonard had scored the game-winning layup in a 57-55 win over Bridgman in overtime to cap Fennville's 20-0 season. He fell to the ground after teammates and fans rushed the court.
Immediately after the game, dozens of classmates, friends and family members posted on Facebook, asking for prayers and support, Fox17.com reported.
The final Facebook posting from the standout athlete was Wednesday night when he posted, "Got a good long shower...ready for bed and game tomorrow!"
Fennville Public Schools Superintendent Dirk Weeldryer remembered Leonard as "a wonderful kid" during a press conference Friday morning.
"Even with the accolades and people calling him a star ... he was very humble and down to earth, widely liked and admired," Weeldryer said.
Leonard also was a quarterback for the high school football team.
He's the second Fennville athlete to die in 14 months. Wrestler Nathaniel Hernandez died in January of 2010 after suffering a seizure at home following his participation in a high school wrestling match. He was 14.
In an interview with the Sentinel at Tuesday's practice, Fennville coach Ryan Klingler talked about how Leonard had a great drive to succeed and that he saw the "bigger picture."
"That's what makes him a little different. He takes care of his body better than probably anybody I've ever coached," Klingler said. "Spends a lot of time on his own in the weight room. He's a special kid."
Weeldryer said a crisis team was assembled early Friday, and counselors were being made available to help students.
"There are things you never, ever want to have to address ... particularly with a situation like this, where Wes was so widely known and respected and revered," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report