FENNVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) - Monday's game was a must-win for the Fennville basketball team -- not to get closer to a state title; but for Wes Leonard, the Blackhawks' star player who hit the game-winning shot Thursday and later died at Holland Hospital.
Leonard, 16, was a junior at the high school.
An autopsy revealed he died from cardiac arrest due to dilated cardiomyopathy, or an enlarged heart, Ottawa County's chief medical examiner Dr. David A. Start's office told 24 Hour News 8.
Wanda and Charles Wooten were at Fennville's game Thursday vs. Bridgman, and watched Leonard hit the big shot -- lifting his team to a perfect 20-0 record on the regular season before collapsing.
"I was there for the glory, and then for the big letdown," Wanda Wooten said.
The couple planned on going to the sold-out game at Hope College's DeVos Fieldhouse, as well. The matchup was moved due to the national attention Leonard's story has received.
"I had a doctors appointment today -- a test," Charles Wooten said. "I canceled that, just so I could go to the game tonight. I wouldn't miss it for anything."
The sentiment is shared by many in Fennville, where Main Street is lined with scarlet and black flags -- many adorned with Leonard's number, 35.
Signs in store windows honor him, as well. Some remind passers-by of the tragedy, and others suggest a little divine intervention -- such as the sign outside Steve Valkema's tire store on Main.
So, if things get a little tough on the court later?
"That's where our strength comes from," Valkema said. " ... There's a lot of caring and support. People are uplifting."
The game won't be easy. Leonard's teammates will hit the court with hearts heavy with grief.
Their biggest challenge may be leaving those emotions in the locker room.
"They've got to have a good heart, and they do have heart," Wanda Wooten said. "And the whole town is behind them. You can't ask for more than that."
24 Hour News 8 rode along the lakeshore on the way to Holland, and found support for Leonard extends way past Fennville city limits.
Saugatuck, for example, one of Fennville's biggest rivals, flew black and orange balloons in support of Leonard.
Community members in Saugatuck are planning a meal for family and friends after Leonard's funeral Tuesday.
"Being two close-knit communities, we wanted to do our share," said Chief John Blok, of the Saugatuck Township Fire Department.
The sign outside the Saugatuck Township Fire Hall is simple -- but speaks volumes about the impact of Leonard's death.
"It hits our area probably just as hard as theirs," Blok said. "Anytime you have a young person like that, just starting out in life, and a tragedy like that hits, it's just too bad. And we all ought to recognize that, and do our share."
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