FENNVILLE, Mich. — A Michigan high school basketball player who died shortly after making a game-winning shot had an enlarged heart.
The Ottawa County medical examiner says 16-year-old Wes Leonard suffered cardiac arrest because of the condition. An autopsy was conducted Friday.
The teenager from Fennville High School was pronounced dead Thursday evening at a hospital in Holland. He scored the game-winning layup at the end of a perfect season for the small town near Lake Michigan.
Leonard collapsed during a post-game celebration. From Sporting News: Other notable on-the-field deaths
"Wes and his team were playing their last basketball game of the season and went into overtime," Holland Hospital spokesman Tim Breed told AOL News in a phone interview today. "During the overtime period, Wes scored some points, put his team ahead and finished the game with a perfect 20-0 season," Breed said. "And of course the fans are cheering and have come onto the gymnasium floor to celebrate, and then very suddenly the gymnasium got quiet and we realized there was a player on the floor. And it was Wes."
Paramedics performed CPR on the 16-year-old before he was pronounced dead at the hospital, Patterson said.
Leonard, a junior who also excelled as the quarterback of the Blackhawks football team, was "by far the best player on that basketball team — outstanding athlete," said coach Mike Miller, whose Bridgman team lost 57-55 to Fennville Thursday night.
"All of Bridgman's thoughts and prayers are going toward Fennville right now," Miller said.
Grief counselors were on hand at the high school on Friday, the Fennville School District said.
Leonard's mother, Jocelyn, is a choir teacher at the middle and high schools and is the director of Fennville High's production of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." A scheduled performance of the musical was canceled for Friday, and it's undecided whether there will be shows on Saturday and Sunday.
Chad VanHuis, a 21-year-old Fennville High graduate who once umpired Leonard's middle school baseball games and was his camp counselor, heard that Leonard had collapsed as he headed into work.
During his break around 1:30 a.m., VanHuis, an assembly line worker at an auto glass factory in nearby Holland, logged on to Facebook and learned of his friend's passing.
"I couldn't believe it," said VanHuis, who remembered opposing baseball coaches asking to see his birth certificate, not believing a 12-year-old could be so big and skilled.
"He was very courteous. He was the nicest kid. You'd think with his star potential, because he's so gifted, he'd be cocky, but he never really was that way."
On Thursday, Leonard, who earlier this season eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his high school career, laid the ball in with less than 30 seconds remaining. Bridgman wasn't able to score during the ensuing trip down the court, giving Fennville a 20-0 season. Leonard fell to the ground after teammates and fans rushed the court.
Fennville Superintendent Dirk Weeldreyer remembered Leonard as "the quintessential all-American kid."
"He had a great grin and was always cheerful. Younger kids throughout the community looked up to him and idolized him," Weeldreyer said. "Wes was strong and powerful. As the quarterback of our championship football team, he could throw a dart 40 yards down the field. He had the body of a linebacker, but brought the ball up the floor for our 20-0 basketball team."
Leonard is the second Fennville athlete to die in 14 months.
Wrestler Nathaniel Hernandez, 14, died in January of last year after suffering a seizure at home following his participation in a high school wrestling match, The Holland Sentinel reported.
Fennville is about 200 miles west of Detroit.