Fennville’s Howard reaches milestone in loss to Indians
On a day that was all about remembering the legacy of one of the best boys’ basketball players ever to play for Fennville, senior Coryne Howard further cemented her case as one of the best girls’ basketball players in Fennville history.
Howard reached the 1,000-point mark in career scoring during the annual Never Forgotten Game against Saugatuck on Friday, Jan. 24.
That personal achievement wasn’t enough to lift her team to the victory, though, as Saugatuck jumped out to an early lead and came away with the 54-32 victory.
The Never Forgotten Game honors the life and legacy of Wes Leonard, the late Fennville standout who collapsed and passed away from sudden cardiac arrest after hitting the winning shot to seal his team’s 20-0 regular season. He was a 16-year-old junior.
In addition to remembering Leonard, the Never Forgotten Game also raises money for the Wes Leonard Heart Team, which provides AEDs to schools and other organizations.
Saugatuck coach Kevin Tringali knew Leonard well, having coached him on a travel team.
“Coaching Wes was a highlight of my coaching career,” Tringali said. “He was a truly special kid and he’ll never be forgotten.
“We share the video with the kids every year. Time is going by and the kids are starting to not really know about Wes. I can play my small part by sharing my memories with Wes and his family. It is important that the kids remember what this is truly about.”
Saugatuck Emma Walker is one of the players who can recall seeing Leonard in action.
Emma Walker scored 15 points to lead Saugatuck.
“Coach has told us a lot about Wes and we wanted to come out and play this game for him,” Walker said. “I was actually at the game (when Leonard passed away). I remember how hard he played and I want to play like that.”
Karissa Moerler added 12 points for Saugatuck, followed by nine each from Zoe Myers and McKenzie Pearson.
“This game means a lot to us,” Myers said. “We want to play for Wes. Playing Fennville is always fun because they’re our biggest rival. But this game is all about playing for Wes and honoring him.”
The Indians took control of the game early, snapping a 4-4 tie with a 12-0 run that included 3-pointers from Myers and Walker. Saugatuck’s lead stood at 14-7 after the first quarter and went to 17-7 thanks to a triple from #1 to open the second stanza.
Then it was Howard’s time to shine, as she knocked down a free throw with 7:16 left in the quarter to give her 1,000 for her career.
“Coryne is a great player who has meant so much to our program,” first-year Fennville coach Josh Weimer said. “She has to work so hard for every point she gets because the opponent is going to throw every junk defense at her that you can think of. She’s just a great player and a great person.”
But the rest of the game belonged to Saugatuck, which held leads of 29-18 at halftime and 38-23 after three quarters before ending the game with a 16-9 edge in the final frame.
Howard finished with nine points to lead Fennville, while Makayia Taylor had six points.
“This is a tough loss, but you have to keep things in perspective,” Weimer said. “This night is about so much more than a win or a loss. It’s about Wes Leonard and recognizing the great work that’s being done by the Heart Team.”