HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) - The 1,500 mourners who packed the church to remember Wes Leonard, the Fennville High School basketball star, outnumbered Fennville's population by about 100.
That left the lakeshore town, with its streets lined in black and orange flags, almost empty.
"Usually, this side, from here over, is always full, packed all the time in the morning, but not this morning," said waitress Mary Emerick at the Blue Goose Cafe, where breakfast is served all day.
But even those who couldn't make it to Tuesday's funeral at Christ Memorial Church, 20 miles to the north in Holland, were
remembering Leonard -- No. 35 -- in their own way.
"Wes went out on a high," Fennville resident Sharon Krawczyk said. "I mean, if you're going to take him, he flew to glory. He flew
through that hoop and he went right to glory."
The 16-year-old junior point guard was remembered at Tuesday's funeral as a humble star who led his team to heights never before reached in Fennville -- an undefeated season.
But family and friends also remembered him as a kid who ate an earthworm for $1 (he had to return the $1 to his mom, Jocelyn, after spitting it out), who loved locker room pranks but wouldn't tolerate bullies, and who was close to God. Last year, he and a teammate led a worship service at their Fennville United Methodist Church.
For Fennville, its high school and its basketball team, the incredible highs and lows began Thursday, when Leonard's layup with seconds left clinched an undefeated regular season -- 20-0. Moments later, he collapsed to the same gym floor with a heart attack. An autopsy found he had an enlarged heart.
On Monday, the team won without its star in front of a sold-out crowd at Hope College, where coaches and players said they felt his presence.
"It's a learning process, isn't it?" Krawczyk said. "If we went through life with only highs, how would we cope with the lows? The highs and lows are what bring maturity, and these basketball players matured by years."
At the funeral service, Leonard's uncle, Jim Leonard, called him a "man-child" who was "still all boy" and, who, despite his athletic prowess, "never showed off or acted flashy."
He recalled Wes' less-than-standard "baseball grip" on the golf club, but how he'd still out-drive him and Wes' father, Gary. "Now, how am I supposed to do this?" Wes would say.
He recalled a touchdown pass Wes threw for the varsity football team, while under a heavy rush.
"All we could do was shake our heads in disbelief," his uncle said.
When Wes led his basketball team to an undefeated season, "all we could do was shake our heads in disbelief."
Then, his death. "Now, four days later, all we can do is shake our heads in disbelief."
The service included the Lord's prayer, a reading from Revelations and a hymn. It also included a rap song -- Blackhawk Down -- written by classmates.
"Gotta keep my head up, gotta stay strong. This life don't last too long, and we can't frown now. We gotta Blackhawk Down."
"I had told Wes I was going to make a song about him, but just about how great of an athlete he was," said co-writer Ivan Gonzalez, a Fennville High School senior. "I didn't think I was going to have to go to the extent to make a song like this for him."
On Tuesday, even members of opposing teams, including the entire football and basketball teams from neighboring Saugatuck High School, were brought to tears.
"I liked playing him, because it made you do your best, too," Saugatuck quarterback Brad Speet said after the service. "Being around him made you want to be a better person."
After the service, Wes' football and basketball coaches helped as pallbearers. Classmates released black and orange balloons -- the school colors. There were 35 -- his jersey number.
The Fennville vs. Bangor playoff game on Wednesday has been moved to Hope College. The game begins at 7 p.m.
Tickets will be on sale at the Fennville High School Athletic Office from 7:30 a.m. - 12 p.m., and at the Bangor High School Athletic Office from 7:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Any unsold tickets through the schools will be available at the DeVos Fieldhouse beginning at 5 p.m.
Tickets are $5.
GRAM Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in front of a festive downtown crowd at Rosa Parks Circle Friday night.
Two people were taken to the hospital after one vehicle crossed the center line, causing a head-on crash in Ada Township Friday night.
A man and his girlfriend are accused of staging a robbery at a restaurant in Grand Rapids.