VICKSBURG, Mich. (WOOD) - The crowd stood and cheered as Wes Leonard's teammates walked off the court for the final time this season, after losing in a regional semifinal to Schoolcraft on Monday night.
The teen died 11 days ago, after hitting a game-winning shot to end the regular season. Since then, the community has rallied behind the Fennville Blackhawks, who won three playoff games without their star.
Still, a tough and experienced Schoolcraft team proved to be too much in the regional semifinals at Vicksburg High School. Both teams came into the matchup undefeated, but the Eagles earned their 86-62 victory.
As the final seconds ticked off the game clock, Fennville fans stood, cheering the courageous effort of the Blackhawks and the memory of Leonard, 16, who died of cardiac arrest due to an enlarged heart.
"Yeah, it's sad but I just hope they don't take it too personally and feel like they let Wes down," Fennville student Megan Walli said. "Because the truth is, Wes is proud of them, and we're proud of them."
After the game, players from both teams and Wes' younger brother exchanged hugs and condolences.
"I haven't played a team with that much heart in a long time," Schoolcraft player Kody Chandler said. "They battled, and they deserve a lot of credit for that."
Although no one can imagine what it's been like for Leonard's parents, they managed to attend all four playoff games. They spoke to the Associated Press after Monday's loss.
"It's been a phenomenal trip," Fennville fan Lou Fries said. "And with all the events that have happened within the last week and a half -- (we) couldn't ask for a better community. It's been phenomenal."
Without the distraction of practice and the sanctuary of the court, the reality of losing a friend is sure to hit home soon.
"It's been nice to have basketball to keep your mind off stuff," Fennville coach Ryan Klingler said. "But if anybody can handle it tomorrow, it will be our guys."
A sheriff's deputy car and a Michigan State Police SUV were among the damaged vehicles.
Broadmoor Avenue has reopened after it was shut down due to a four-vehicle crash in Caledonia.
The extravaganza was Dec. 11, 2013 in downtown Grand Rapids.