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High School Basketball Player Dies

February 24, 1999

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ Devin Cuningkin, who helped his high school basketball team win a championship, died Wednesday morning after apparently striking his head on the floor during the game.

Cuningkin, 18, fell and hit his head on the floor during the game, his step-brother, Tim Pledger, said. The player left the game with about two minutes left after scoring 12 points in Little Rock McClellan’s 64-49 victory over Pine Bluff on Tuesday for the District AAAAA-South title.

Cuningkin was taken into the training room and after the game was taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital, where his condition deteriorated overnight. He died about 8:30 a.m.

``The team has voted to go on and play for him and do the best we can,″ McClellan coach Tom McKinney said. ``One of the players said we’re going to have an advantage next week. We’re going to have six players out there.″

McClellan faces Jacksonville in a state tournament game next week.

The Pulaski County Coroner’s Office had not determined the cause of death. A medical exam was planned Thursday, county coroner Mark Malcolm said.

Cuningkin’s family and school staff held a vigil at the hospital through the night. Cuningkin, a senior, had transferred to McClellan from Benton last year.

Pledger said his brother was hoping to get a college scholarship to play basketball.

``Of course, he had been playing since he was knee-high,″ he said. ``He was going to be a good college basketball player.″

McClellan held a team meeting Wednesday but did not practice. The team will practice Thursday.

``It’s going to be a tough day tomorrow, there’s no doubt about that,″ McKinney said. ``I’ve been a coach for 28 years and this is the toughest day I’ve had in coaching.″

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