After teammate’s death, players finish game
BATON ROUGE, La. ” Less than 24 hours after star point guard Shannon Veal collapsed on the court and died, her teammates at Glen Oaks High School finished what she started ” winning a playoff game amid emotional support from the LSU women’s basketball team, among others.
“It was hard, it was hard not seeing that No. 25,” Glen Oaks High School coach Harold Boudreaux said, referring to Veal’s jersey number. “But I give it to my kids. They came out. They held their composure. They played under control. What more can you ask for?”
Glen Oaks beat opponent Helen Cox 67-40 in the regional playoff game that had been suspended the night before when Veal, 17, collapsed just before halftime. An autopsy on Tuesday indicated Veal’s death was the result of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy ” a thickening of the heart muscle ” according to the East Baton Rouge Parish coroner’s office.
Veal had just hit two free throws , when she signaled she needed a breather. Before Boudreaux could replace her, the talented point guard collapsed and died.
“It’s the kind of thing I’ll always look back on, but it was just seconds,” Boudreaux said earlier Tuesday. “She was guarding a player and just keeled over. You could hear her head hit the floor.”
Paramedics arrived in minutes Monday night. They began CPR and used a defibrillator as the crowd of about 200 watched. Among those at the gym was an LSU scout and Veal’s father, Gilbert, who was recording the playoff game.
On Tuesday, the lobby at the Glen Oaks gym that holds several state and district championship trophies, featured a large, red horizontal sign that read, “We love U Shannon,” posted on a wall. It was filled with signatures and well-wishes for Veal’s family.
Among those in the stands offering support was the LSU women’s basketball team and assistant coaches Bob Starkey, Travis Mays and Yolanda Wells-Broughton.
“We just went in there and congratulated them and let them know to keep their heads up,” LSU center Sylvia Fowles said after the game. “It’ll be hard to get over, but they’ve got to keep looking forward because that’s what (Shannon) would want them to do.”
Fowles said she remembers Veal attending basketball camps, and LSU guard Quianna Chaney said she remembers Veal as an avid fan of LSU basketball.
“She came to all the LSU games and she and her mom used to be out there getting autographs,” Chaney said. “The least we could do is come out here and show our support.”
Starkey and Mays were at Monday’s game to scout Veal.
“She wasn’t just a good player. She was an outstanding young lady,” Starkey said. “She was going to play college basketball somewhere. She was that good. You hate to lose anybody that young, with so much potential.”
Veal, a 5-foot-8 junior, was the district MVP. She was averaging 14 points, 5.5 assists and two steals.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common cause of sudden, unexpected death among young athletes, according to Dr. Kim Edward LeBlanc said. The condition makes it difficult for blood to leave the heart, but it is difficult to discern.
“It is rare enough that there is no recommendation to screen for it,” LeBlanc said.
Veal was diabetic and Don Moreau, chief of operations for the coroner’s office, said the condition may have been related to the disease.
LeBlanc, chairman of the Department of Family Medicine at the LSU Medical Center and a specialist in sports medicine, said diabetes should not prevent an athlete from playing.
“Generally, if you have well-controlled diabetes there should be no problems, especially at that age,” LeBlanc said. “In fact, we encourage diabetics to exercise.”
All high school athletes must have a complete physical once a year, said Kenny Henderson, commissioner of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.