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Wes Leonard, Fennville Make Time’s Top 10 List

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

It’s the time of year when TIME Magazine puts out their “Top 10 Everything of 2011″ lists, and a local story has landed in the number 10 spot for “Top 10 Sports Moments“.

The story of Wes Leonard, and the Fennville boys’ basketball team, garnered national attention this year, going so far as to earn them an ESPY nomination.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, Wes Leonard, a star basketball player at Fennville High School, went from scoring the winning points for his team in the last game of their regular season one second, to collapsing on the gym floor, dead from a heart attack, the next. The tragedy understandably shook the small town to it’s core. Fennville’s first playoff game was scheduled to take place in Lawrence. Lawrence High School, in an amazing act of sportsmanship, agreed to give up home-court advantage, and play the game at a neutral site, which could accommodate a larger crowd, closer to Fennville. This allowed more Fennville residents to travel to the game, and support a team playing under the most difficult of circumstances.

The TIME piece reads:

Wes’ brother Mitchell, an 8th grader, led the Fennville players onto the court. In a symbolic gesture, Fennville walked onto the court with four players to start the game — one starter, Leonard, was irreplaceable. Both teams wore “Never Forgotten” warm-up shirts. The team that gave up home court advantage, Lawrence, lost to Fennville, 65-54, a small consolation for the grieving players. But the result didn’t really matter. By honoring a young basketball player taken away too soon, two small communities rose to the occasion.


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