Saturday, January 31, 1998
Prep player dies in game
Walnut Hills teen collapses on court

Enquirer contributor

Gabriel Robinson
Gabriel Robinson, a 16-year-old basketball player for Walnut Hills, was pronounced dead at Franciscan Hospital after collapsing during a boys high school basketball game at Northwest High School on Friday.

Northwest Athletic Director Rich Craig said Gabriel collapsed early in the second quarter and was taken by Colerain Township Life Squad to Franciscan Hospital.

Gabriel, a 6-foot, 180-pound junior, was the starting guard for Walnut Hills and the team's leading scorer with a 14.7-point average.

''The kid was in distress and was immediately assisted by a trainer,'' Mr. Craig said. ''We postponed the game and all of Saturday's games.''

''There wasn't any type of collision,'' said Northwest basketball coach Ed Hulefeld. ''He just collapsed.

''I didn't really see exactly what happened,'' he said, ''but when we looked at it on tape afterward, it looked like he just started to go down.

''He put his hand out to break his fall, then about halfway down, it looked like he just lost control.

''It kind of looked like Hank Gathers (a Loyola Marymount player who died during a college basketball game in 1990),'' Mr. Hulefeld said. ''He just lost control.''

Gabriel was one of Walnut Hills' up-and-coming stars. He was named all-league as a freshman and sophomore in the Queen City Conference National Division.

Walnut Hills athletic director Tim Mersch spoke highly of Gabriel as both athlete and student.

''The school will be devastated,'' Mr. Mersch said. ''Gabe was a coach's dream. He was a model student-athlete, achieved great grades and never was in any trouble.''

Mr. Mersch remembers joking with Gabriel before Thursday's practice.

''He was our leading scorer and leading everthing,'' Mr. Mersch said. ''He was light-hearted and had a great personality. I'll miss him.''

According to Franciscan spokesperson Karen Kuhn, doctors attended to Gabriel but were unable to revive him.

''Gabriel was declared dead at 9:08 p.m.'' Ms. Kuhn said. ''The doctors did everything they could to save him.''

After Gabriel was taken to the hospital, Northwest school officials arranged for transportation home for all the players and cheerleaders.

Walnut Hills has canceled today's girls basketball game at Hughes and the alumni-varsity game at Walnut Hills.

Northwest has also canceled today's girls basketball game at Turpin, the boys basketball game at Ross and a dual wrestling match against Roger Bacon.