FENNVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) - Fennville's dramatic, overtime basketball victory over Bridgman Thursday night turned suddenly tragic when star player Wes Leonard collapsed and died.
During a news conference Friday, two of his teammates, seniors Adam Siegel and DeMarcus McGee, talked about the loss of Leonard. They are devastated and heartbroken.
"It shouldn't have been like this. Wes should have..." Siegel struggled with his composure. "It shouldn't have been like this."
McGee said, "You never thought that it was him. He was so healthy. I don't know. This shouldn't have happened."
Last Saturday, Leonard told the local newspaper his play wasn't up to par because he was fighting the flu.
An autopsy revealed Wes Leonard died from "cardiac arrest due to dilated cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart)," Ottawa County's chief medical examiner Dr. David A. Start's office told 24 Hour News 8.
Friday, the high school's US flag flew at half-staff as the students, teacher and the entire community tries to deal with this loss.
"A lot of the younger, elementary students, even some kids here in the high school looked up to him. He was a great athlete, a good friend to have," McGee said.
"All you could (think of) was everything we've done with him," Siegel said. "Those last moments. I was picking him up like four seconds before that. Picking him up."
"Last night was obvioulsy a long and emotional night for all of us here in Fennville," superintendent Dirk Weeldreyer said, "and this community is shocked, stunned."
When asked if the team would play again soon, coach Ryan Klingler said, "We're going to make sure we're all in a good healthy place before we decide on anything."
As he sorted through old coaching photographs-- dating back to the 1950s, Sam Morehead had one Fennville player on his mind Friday night.
"They had him up on the air and he still had that warm smile of his," Morehead said. "His teammates were around him and then you saw him go down."
Morehead watched the two-sport star Wes Leonard lead his basketball team to a perfect season. Leonard was one of the highest scoring basketball players ever for Fennville.
"If Leonard hadn't come, we wouldn't be 20-0," Morehead said. "He is phenomenal."
The gym in which Leonard played and died is named for Morehead. But both men are hometown legends.
"Sometimes the Lord takes young people like that because He needs somebody to make an influence in heaven," Morehead said.
- by Crystal Hilliard
Visitation for Wes Leonard will be Sunday, from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at Fennville United Methodist Church. The funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Christ Memorial Church in Holland.
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