FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — About six weeks after his heart stopped during practice, a Fruitport-area teen made his triumphant return to the basketball court.
The teams that faced off Friday share the same name and a long-standing rivalry: Calvary Christian High School of Fruitport Township and Calvary Schools of Holland. But the real story out of the game had little to do with the score.
It’s actually about 17-year-old Luke Anhalt, a starter for Fruitport Calvary, a school of about 70 students.
“Probably the biggest game for this school this year given that it’s homecoming and, of course, the return of Luke. It ought to be a really fun night,” Jeff Zehr, Fruitport Calvary’s coach, said.
During practice on Dec. 13, Anhalt collapsed on the floor of the school’s gym. His heart had stopped beating. His coach ordered other players to get the automated external defibrillator, which delivered a shock to Anhalt, restarting his heart. Doctors say the coach’s quick action saved Anhalt’s life.
Doctors at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids ultimately determined that there are no problems with Anhalt’s heart and that the cardiac arrest he suffered was the result of a fluke electrical misfire. They say it shouldn’t happen again, but just in case they implanted a defibrillator his back.
Since then, Anhalt has been working hard in rehabilitation to get back on the court.
“All the emotions are going right now,” Anhalt said before the game. “I’m nervous, I’m excited to go. This is going to be good.”
It was good: His return to the court was met with fanfare and a few words from his father, who was understandably choked up.
“We’re here to celebrate God’s love in Luke’s recovery. We’re here to celebrate that God claimed his heart,” Jeff Anhalt told the crowd.
He also kept an eye on his son’s heart rate during the game, but there weren’t any problems.
Luke Anhalt scored 11 points, including a coast-to-coast bucket that helped ice the game for his team in the final seconds. In the end, the battle of the Calvarys ended with Anhalt’s team prevailing 50-44.