Fans, team honor Jennifer Lease in state semifinal game
MADISON, Wis. — Barneveld boys are heading to the state championship with a lot of support from their community.
It seems as if all of Barneveld came out for the semifinal game Friday. It’s been an emotional week for the small tightknit community, which is dealing with the death of one of the player’s parents.
“For Jen, family was everything, starting with her boys”, explained Jennifer Lease’s boyfriend, Nick Owen. “We are just getting by and doing things we think Jen would want to do, being here to support the boys. It is tough but the community is great,” he said.
Just like family, the village of Barneveld rallied behind Malcolm Reed and the rest of his team in Friday’s semifinal game. Reed’s mother, Jennifer Lease, died unexpectedly from a brain aneurysm last week.
“It helps with coping. The grieving process is hard but it makes us feel better to see how much she was loved,” said Tia Philips, Lease’s sister.
While No. 50 was not on the court, it was in the stands. Fans held signs and sported No. 50 to honor Lease, who played for the high school in the 1990s. The team also paid tribute during their warmup wearing shirts with Lease’s old high school number on the back.
“You see how our team really rallied behind him and each other and that’s really what it was all week,” said head coach Jim Myers.
Reed said despite the difficulty of the week, he never questioned if he would play in Friday’s game.
“This week has been really tough but I knew if anything that my mom would want me to play the last game, and this game for sure. There was no doubt in my mind that I had to be here for my team,” Reed said.
While Lease could not be seen in the stands, Reed knows his mother is still cheering him on.
“To come out here with the team and this win, it means a lot. Just for my mom, I know she would be very proud,” he said.
The Barneveld Eagles won 72-52 over Marshfield Columbus.
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