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Life and sports meet in terrible events

March 7, 2011
By MIKE MATHISON

The place went nuts.

Wes Leonard hit a game-winning lay-up in the final seconds, propelling his team to the next round of the high school boys basketball playoffs in Michigan.

The place went quiet.

Leonard was on the ground, being worked on by paramedics because he collapsed just moments after the triumph.

The place mourned.

Leonard was pronounced dead moments after arriving at Holland Hospital.

His bucket handed Fennville High a 57-55 victory over Bridgman High and a 20-0 record on Thursday.

But, that didn't matter now.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound 16-year-old star of the football and baseball teams, also, was dead.

An autopsy confirmed he died of cardiac arrest due to an enlarged heart.

The team will play today in the Class C district playoffs against Lawrence High at Hope College. All proceeds from the game will be donated to Leonard's family or a charity of their choice.

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

Wonder if his parents really care if their son had ever been an all-state, all-district or all-league selection?

Tina Stewart, a junior, was a member of the Middle Tennessee State University women's basketball team.

Was.

The 21-year-old died Wednesday at the Middle Tennessee Medical Center after being stabbed multiple times.

Her roommate, 18-year-old Shanterrica Madden, has been charged with first-degree murder.

"There was an argument," Murfreesboro police spokesman Kyle Evans told The Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro. "During that argument, Madden stabbed the victim."

Athletic Director Chris Massaro called Stewart's death an incredible loss.

"She was a great kid, she was a fighter and she was a competitor," he told The News Journal. "When I think of her right now, I think of her smile and grin. She would light up a room. It's hard to describe, it's hard for me to find words. I wish you all could have got to know her."

Stewart averaged 5.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in 28 games this season.

Wonder if her parents or Madden's parents really care if their daughter had ever been an all-state, all-district or all-league selection?

Matt Crozier was a 6-foot-7 men's basketball player at John Carroll University. He played forward and center.

A graduate of LaSalle College High School in Philadelphia, Crozier was home for the Christmas break.

He was attending a New Year's Eve party on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, according to published reports. It was reported the 20-year-old Crozier fell 30 feet over a stairway railing located inside the residence and died on Jan. 5 due to severe head trauma caused by the fall.

Wonder if his parents really care if their son had ever been an all-state, all-district or all-league selection?

I'll go out on a limb and say no to all three.

Adults really need to get a grip on reality.

The Ohio all-district selections just came out, and the all-state picks for Ohio and West Virginia are right around the corner and I would bet everything I own (which is not much) that some mom or dad is whining to someone (or everyone) that their son or daughter got jobbed.

Grow up.

If that is the motivation, then I'm not sure how much of a team player you are.

Two words - work harder - not, whine more.

The mess that is the West Virginia high school basketball playoffs are in full swing.

The girls' state tournament begins Wednesday in Charleston and the final shot for the boys to make it there next week happens Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

But, in all reality, it is a joke how it is run.

I understand what is trying to be done, but to lose and still have a shot at a state championship is contrary to what is sports.

This isn't the best-of-three in softball or baseball.

What happened to win-and-advance or lose-and-go-home and why can't it be that simple?

Locally, Madonna, Weir and Wheeling Park should thank their collective stars and come out this week and play the best game of the season.

How would you feel if you are Preston High School?

Your team just did what it is supposed to do and beat Fairmont Senior and for that win, you get to host No. 1 Wheeling Park and have to win another game in order to make it to Charleston.

Fair?

Not even close.

The Patriots lost at home to Morgantown and now go on the road to try to win a state title.

So, if you have a bad night on the correct night, you get a second chance.

But, if you have a bad night on the wrong night, the other team goes to Charleston and not you.

The Red Riders head to Point Pleasant on Wednesday and Madonna visits Parkersburg Catholic on Thursday.

Good luck boys.

Make that one loss a positive thing in a trek to Charleston.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at mmathison@heraldstaronline.com)

 
 

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