Mich. high school player dies after winning shot

Fennville High School’s Wes Leonard puts up the winning shot in a 57-55 win over Bridgman in Fennville, Mich., on Thursday. Leonard collapsed on the court and later died after making the game-winning layup in overtime to cap his team's perfect season.

FENNVILLE, Mich. — One moment: a perfect shot to end a perfect season. The star player, just 16, lifted off the floor in celebration. Teenagers triumphant, crowds cheering, the district playoffs ahead, the future open wide.

The next: Wes Leonard on the gym floor, his enlarged heart failing, his life fading just a few moments after his victory layup. Packed bleachers suddenly stunned by an event that made basketball seem a distant, unimportant memory.

A day after Leonard died from an enlarged heart, this small town near Lake Michigan remembered an “all-American kid” whose athletic heroics had been local legend since middle school, when opposing coaches sometimes asked to see his birth certificate, not believing someone so young could be so skilled.

“He was a good kid, a good friend to have and a good person to hang around with,” DeMarcus McGee, who played football and basketball with Leonard, said between sobs. “You never thought it could be him. He was so healthy. It shouldn’t happen.”

On Thursday evening, Leonard sent the ball through the hoop from close range with less than 30 seconds left in the game. The final shot gave Fennville High a 57-55 victory over Bridgman High and a 20-0 regular season.

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