It’s mid-January and Landon’s (Drew to the rest of the world) senior basketball season is half over. Sniff, sniff where’s the Kleenex? I was determined not to miss a single game this season. I didn’t even make it through December (memorial service far away). The game I missed wasn’t important, just a Christmas break challenge with 8 schools participating. Pioneer lost-but Landon scored a season high of 31. Of course I wasn’t there, rooting for him or keeping stats. Both losses could actually be my fault. (He ain’t heavy, he’s my grandson).
|Senior # 3 Landon, wearing a rare smile during the game against Skyline, 2019|
Normally, I have a game day routine and stick to it. When I arrive at the gym while Landon is warming up, I get out my 4 year old journal (Landon’s entire high school basketball career by grandma) and set up a fresh page for tonight’s game. By hand, in ink, crooked lines included. In the case of Pioneer’s first loss (Landon’s only sub par game) against Canton, I ‘drew’ up my game page while farting around-at home-during the afternoon. What was I thinking? Their second loss was when I was out of town, unavoidable, but still.
|My basketball journal of Landon thru high school. It’s actually showing some wear…|
So to catch up, Pioneer’s had some blowouts, thus several of Landon’s games, he’s played very little or not at all during the 4th quarter. As it should be. If the starters are not needed, let them sit and give the rest of the guys some playing time. He’s averaging 20 points a game, not bad for missing quite a few 4th quarters. So far this season, he’s had a couple games with 25 plus points and an unusual game played before Christmas break.
|Are you kidding me? One Landon surrounded by 4 Skyline players…|
I believe for conference standings they need 14 games but for the year must play 20, so they scramble trying to find opponents to fill up their schedule early in the season. Pioneer’s last game before break was at home against Traverse City Central, which is quite far away. Conference play starts after Christmas.
Did I know anything about Traverse City? Not really. When Tracey was coaching Jackson High, the Vikings routinely played some big high school from Traverse City during preseason. After Jackson beat TC soundly 3 years in a row, they cried ‘uncle’ and no longer wanted to play the Vikings. Huh. This Traverse City team sure knew a lot about us. Especially Landon.
Pretty sure I know why. A couple weeks before the game there was a article on mlive about Michigan’s 2019’s Mr. Basketball. Every year an award is given to the best basketball player in the state. What position they play makes no difference. This article listed the early contenders and gave a short bio on each one. Landon was on the list. No surprise, he’s been one of the top guards in the state since his freshman year. Will he win? As a grandma and his # 1 fan I believe he’s the total package when it comes to one of the best all around players. Duh. The list named a dozen early hopefuls. I don’t know all the players but I’m quite familiar with 3. One is Landon’s teammate Kasean Pryor. Good shooter at 6’8” and doesn’t hesitate getting physical in the paint. While this is natural for most guys 6’8” Kasean runs about 40 pounds lighter than the rest of the swinging-elbow-brutes nearby. Another early Mr. Basketball possibility is from Ann Arbor Skyline, one of Pioneer’s arch rivals. His name is Ryan Wade, a left handed, good shooting guard. Ironically, both Ryan and Landon have committed to Holy Cross, so they’ll be playing college ball together. When they’re not wearing different colored uniforms on the court, they’re good friends. The third kid is amazingly talented. Played AAU ball with Landon a couple of summers. His name is Romeo Weems, 6’7”, and has been touted as the front runner since his sophomore year and will most likely win. If it’s not gonna be Landon I’d be happy if Romeo, Ryan or Kasean wins.
|Ryan Wade with Landon hanging close…|
It’s not unusual for the student section from the opposition to give a ration of shit to a specific player during a game. They’re high school kids, I get it. Landon’s really good. Several sport business groups have routinely made highlight videos and interview him after games. Plus Landon’s not above getting lippy during games. Seriously wish he could block out that stuff, but he can not. I’ve seen him glance in the stands once in a while. My deafness prevents me from hearing what’s been yelled, but as focused as he is on the game he still hears the taunts. But it’s usually the student body of schools in our conference who know Landon really well (except by his given name). Because they play each other at least twice a year, and they’ve watched him for 4 years.
|Landon, not happy with the ref’s call…|
But this obnoxious Traverse City team. They didn’t have many fans so I assume it was the junior varsity guys (their game was over) doing the harassing. But it was non-stop the whole game. Every time Landon touched the ball they chanted, “over-rated,” (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap). Every. Single. Time. You know how many times the point guard touches the ball coming down the court? A lot. Even to me, it was distracting. But here’s the deal.
|Looking over options…|
It was a close, low scoring, back and forth game. No sitting out the 4th quarter for the best ball handler in the building (state). Landon played all but a minute or 2. (Side note: I don’t know what Pioneer has done to their gym. but it’s been unbelievably warm in there. The boy’s faces are flushed after they warm up and the game hasn’t even commenced. I don’t ever remember the gym being this stinking hot. No, it’s not hot flashes. If I’m toasty, trust me everyone else is sweating buckets. Turn down the heat in there on game days-please). Pioneer led 22-19 at half. Landon had 9 of those points. We stretched the lead a bit in the third, only to lose it during the 4th quarter. But we squeaked out a 47-45 win. Landon ended up with 23, virtually half their total score. Over-rated? Not hardly. Now shut up and go home.
Friday night was a big game against our rival, Skyline. We haven’t had the best success against them during the last 4 years, losing the last 4 in a row. Landon sprained his ankle last year against them and we lost by 20. Plus I hate their gym. (I’ll take Pioneer’s sauna compared to how steep Skyline’s gym is). I’ve been to the Coliseum in Rome, Skyline might have used the same architectural design. Narrow and steep steps. I only venture down about 2 rows beneath the wispy clouds when I’m at Skyline. Plop my butt down and don’t move. Peyton (our multi-talented, coordinated ballerina) almost tumbled down those killer steps a couple of years ago. Yikes.
|He’s got a lot of drive…|
But this game was at Pioneer with a packed house. You’d better get there early when we play Huron or Skyline. Both student sections were filled to capacity, harassing each other during the game. Skyline led by a point at halftime. Second half would swing our way, increasing our lead to double digits. A good game to win. Landon was spot on defensively but a little off his average and had 13. Pioneer is hoping to come out on top of the conference by season’s end and have a good tournament run. So at the midway point, we’re 8-2. Anxious to see how his year ends up, but not ready to have it be over. Go-Landon-go…
|Landon’s official stat sheet by gram…|