I can hear it now. You’re all going to blame me. It wasn’t my fault, I swear. Looking back though, I might have been a bit hasty with my last post, called The Freshman. But hey, I was excited about the terrific December he and his team had just finished. Ok, so I got caught up in the moment. But as the rest of the story unfolds, I’m sure you’ll find me completely blameless.
|Landon, number 3, going in for a layup…|
Let me catch you up. It really all started about 2 years ago. My 15 year old grandson, Landon (Drew to the rest of the world) had a sore foot. His left foot. A nagging pain when he played hard, changed directions or pivoted on the basketball court. Over the last 2 years he’s seen his pediatrician, a podiatrist, had shoe inserts, been taped, x-rays, you name it. But not one of them could find the cause for Landon’s foot pain.
Did the pain in his foot ever halt his play on the basketball court? Surely you jest. Nope, this kid just played through the discomfort. But it never went away. So, mom, dad and Landon continued to look for answers on what was troubling this growing foot on my fantastic grandson, the ball player.
|Landon guarding, disrupting Skyline’s player…|
Shannon had a day long commitment with Governor Snyder’s Task Force back in December. Tracey had just gone through knee replacement surgery and wasn’t able to drive yet. So I was tagged to take Landon, his most recent x-rays, and tests results to an orthopedic specialist in Jackson.
His appointment was at 9:15. I love morning appointments. I optimistically assume since it’s so early, how far behind can the office/Doctor possibly be? We waited and waited. Landon was the youngest one in the office by about 5 decades. One of the patients ahead of him was a 90 year old lady who insisted on filling out all the forms herself. I love these little independent women. Except she could not remember any medications, dates of injuries, surgeries, not much of anything pertaining to her upcoming visit. She was also stone deaf, and ended up asking her daughter every single question from the four sheet form. Loudly. I’m profoundly deaf, and I heard all the information on the last 50 years of her health issues that morning. I’m glad Landon was on the ball. He had his phone along. Texted his mom with questions about his medications and dates.
|Something he’s always excelled in, his passing ability…|
We finally get called back and sit in a room to wait some more. When the doctor finally makes an appearance, (he’s wearing an identical Polo shirt that Landon owns. Only about 3 sizes bigger) and he’s full of questions. About Tracey, knee surgery, basketball and life in general. I didn’t realize the doc went to Jackson High with Shannon and Tracey. He was a couple years ahead of Shannon, as was Tracey, though Tracey and Shannon are the same age. T graduated at age 16. Anyway, he finally got to the reason we were there. The foot problem. I saw and sympathized during the wincing pain on Landon’s face as Doc manipulated his foot. Asked a lot of questions, looked at his recent x-rays, and said he thought it was time for an MRI. Ventured it could be a stress fracture, cyst or something completely different.
|He’s got some growing to do. Look at those feet???|
Nothing else for us to do that day. We got some lunch and I hustled him to school for a half day cause his appointment took so long. Shannon called to set up the MRI appointment during Christmas break. Landon continued to practice and play basketball. His team, the Ann Arbor Pioneers, were doing phenomenal. Hadn’t lost yet. Landon, the only freshman on Varsity was getting quite a few playing minutes. And scoring some points.
Christmas break is over, school’s back in session, the basketball season is back on the court. Shannon and Landon have an appointment to get the results of the MRI. She calls after they leave the office. It’s official. A stress fracture. Bummer. He needs a boot, crutches and 4 weeks of rest for his left foot.
|Umm, yes, he can be pretty intense on the court…|
The doctor’s appointment was on a Friday, a couple hours before one of Pioneer’s biggest rivalry opponents. No doubt about it, Landon wanted to play, then tell his coach. The timing is actually pretty good. He might only miss 4 games because they have 2 Tuesday’s off in January. Shannon and Tracey decide to let him play. After all, he’s been playing basketball year round with this discomfort for over 2 years.
What a game. This is the same team they played in December when “he’s a freshman, he’s a freshman” was screamed by the student section as he went on to score 14 points. (And the student body continued this tradition that night). But 14 isn’t even close to the game he was about to have. At age 15.
|The Rowdy Bunch during game against Skyline. Coach Rex in white shirt…|
Landon goes in about midway through the first quarter, and plays 9 minutes of the first half. He makes his first shot, a jumper, then a lay up. Two 3 pointers follow for 10 in the half. Never missed a shot and had one foul. Goes in at the 3 minute mark of the 3rd quarter. Does not score in the period, but causes all kinds of headaches for one of Skyline’s main shooters.
It’s during the 4th quarter where Landon would really shine. He’s always been a very disciplined player. (His only waver is a bit of trash talking once in a while. Not to worry, I’m on it) He practices A LOT. This is where all that practice comes to fruition. Crunch time. First he has a nifty layup. So his total stands at 12. Although Pioneer had lead by more than 20 points at times, the big lead has dwindled. With time running down, Skyline needs the clock to stop. How does a team do that? By fouling Pioneer and hoping they miss at the line. Unfortunately for Skyline, they had to foul a superb point guard with the name of Landon Lowder (ok, so most scream Drew, but not this gram. If anything, I’m consistent). Towards the end of the 4th quarter, they fouled him 5 times. How many points did the Pioneers get out of Landon standing on the free throw line? Ten freaking points people. Ten, I tell you. Does he stand at the foul line and go through all kinds of crazy rituals? Nope. Just bounces it once, throws it up and swishes it through. Over and over. Ten points in free throws. Twelve for the half. High scorer for the game with 22.
|Oh yeah baby, he’s making his move…|
Landon was interviewed at length by a sports writer from the Ann Arbor News for the paper last Sunday. Reading the article and the blog his coach writes after every game was misleading though. Both indicated Landon had recently hurt his foot. This injury was not recent at all. One of the neatest comments I read in the blog about Landon’s game was this: “at crunch time, a freshman with ice water in his veins at the free throw line!”
|My rather lame attempt keeping Landon stats…|
So last Saturday morning, Landon started sporting a boot and crutches. Sigh. It has to be done. They didn’t have a game on Tuesday. We didn’t go to Friday nights game either. Sure I want Pioneer to win, but without the lure of watching Landon hustle up and down the court during the game, it’s just not the same for this gram. Shannon texted me throughout. Pioneer struggled more than they should have, and although Landon’s not a starter, where Deric is, they are now missing 2 key players in their lineup. But the Pioneers pulled it out for their 11th win with no losses. Landon goes back to the orthopedic doctor the 1st of February. Deric might be out a little longer than that. The big game with their other town rivalry is this Friday night. And I hear Huron has a pretty good team.
|Landon has stepped up his defense…|
I have a couple stories in my head trying to break free. But at least for the next few weeks, no basketball stories about the amazing Landon. You’ll have to be content with the boring early Neese years…