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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 03/ 4/2011

Wes Leonard, Michigan high-school star, dies after hitting game-winner

By Cindy Boren

Updated at 3:10 p.m.

Shortly after hitting the winning shot that secured his team's perfect season in an overtime game, a high school basketball player in Fennville, Mich., collapsed on the court Thursday night and later died.

Wes Leonard, 16, collapsed moments after being hoisted into the air by jubilant teammates. He was given CPR before shocked teammates and a stunned crowd, then taken to a local hospital, according to the Holland (Mich.) Sentinel. "Wes arrived at Holland Hospital in cardiac arrest. All efforts were made after he arrived to help restart his heart, but unfortunately, those efforts were not successful."

According to Dr. David A Start, the forensic pathologist and medical examiner of Ottawa County in western Michigan, an autophy determined that the cause of death was cardiac arrest brought on by dilated cardiomyopathy. The disease, which enlarges and weakens heart muscles, often is undetected.

"It's tough to take in," his teammate, Shane Bale, said. "It's like somebody from your family, you know?"

Leonard is the second Fennville athlete to die in 14 months. Wrestler Nathaniel Hernandez died in January of 2010 after suffering a seizure at home following his participation in a high school wrestling match. He was 14.

A two-sport athlete, Leonrd had scored over 1,000 points in basketball and quarterbacked the football team to the Southwestern Athletic Conference North Division championship, passing for seven touchdowns in the victory that clinched the title.

In an interview earlier in the week, Fennville Coach Ryan Klingler told the Sentinel of Leonard's focus and drive to succeed. "That's what makes him a little different. He takes care of his body better than probably anybody I've ever coached," Klingler said. "Spends a lot of time on his own in the weight room. He's a special kid."

By Cindy Boren  | March 4, 2011; 9:00 AM ET
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That sucks.

Posted by: ozpunk | March 4, 2011 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Check him for performance-enhancing drugs - if they find some, also check the wrestler, if they find some more, investigate the coaching staff.

Posted by: question-guy | March 4, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Check him for performance-enhancing drugs - if they find some, also check the wrestler, if they find some more, investigate the coaching staff.

Posted by: question-guy | March 4, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

. . . . . . .

And if they don't send the surviving members of the wrestling team to question-guy's house so they can stick his head in a toilet.

Posted by: Cossackathon | March 4, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Question-guy: That was a very tasteless comment. Yet strangely enough, it lacked an actual question.
Here's one for you: Why are you such a prick?

Posted by: Sportaholic | March 4, 2011 12:46 PM | Report abuse

He left this earth sharing the winning moment. My condolence to the Family of this nice young man.

Posted by: PSolver | March 4, 2011 6:32 PM | Report abuse

I live in this area now, but I have lived nearly all my life in Michigan. Today we are all residents of Fennville, wherever we are physically. RIP.

Posted by: faygokid | March 4, 2011 8:50 PM | Report abuse

question-guy - when you are rotting in hell remember that your comment here is one of the reasons.

Posted by: tojo45 | March 5, 2011 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Very sad. If there's any consolation in this tragedy he died at possibly the happiest moment of his life.

Posted by: randysbailin | March 5, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

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