Mineral’s Landwehr leads Braves to new heights
MINERAL — All Owen Landwehr ever wanted to do growing up in rural Mineral was to be a basketball player, and one day being named First Team All-State and leading his team to the state tournament.
Consider it mission accomplished.
The Mineral might achieved all those honors this year and then some.
And now, the Bureau County product is the 2017-18 BCR Player of the Year.
He is the second Mineral product to earn that distinction, following in footsteps of neighbor Megan Foes, who was the BCR Girls Player of the Year four years before him.
Landwehr is pure poetry in motion on the floor with cat-like moves and a strong ability to finish around the rim or dish to a teammate who can put the ball in the basket. However he can get the job done works for him.
“I think to be a good team leader, you have to get other people involved,” he said.
Landwehr’s numbers on the year are what All-State players and players of the year are made of. He not only led the Braves in scoring at 19.3 ppg, but was the team leader with 8.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.4 steals and 0.9 blocks a game.
“Being named All-State is a tremendous honor. I’m so thankful for everyone to support me and my team for pushing me every day in practice,” he said.
Landwehr is not all natural talent. Annawan coach Alex Coppejans, a former Brave All-Stater himself, said Landwehr has the highest level of work ethic he’s ever seen in a player.
“He is constantly getting better. Whether it’s in the weight room or in the gym, he never lets himself get complacent,” Coppejans said. “One of the most coachable players I’ve ever seen with a great intelligence for the game of basketball. Extremely fundamentally sound as well.”
One of the best lessons Landwehr said he learned through basketball is that hard work pays off.
“I’ve worked since about seventh grade. My goal was always to be First Team All-State individually and my team goal was to make it to state. All that hard work has paid off,” he said.
The Braves state team was senior-dominated with a core group that came up together with much success at the lower level. They won the IESA state championship in the seventh grade and finished second at state in the eighth grade.
At the time, Landwehr said, he and his classmates didn’t really give much thought to the future and what may lie ahead at the other end of the Annawan school building.
“We were in junior high, just kids,” he said. “We knew high school would be a lot harder going to state. We had to work at it and take it day by day.”
They begin to put things all together last year at the high school level, reaching the Sweet 16 before falling to Aurora Christian in the sectional finals. The Braves avenged that loss in this year’s sectional finals at Marseilles, knocking off the No. 1-ranked Eagles 63-54.
The next stop on the road to state took the the Braves to the Normal Super-Sectional, where they defeated No. 7-ranked Colfax Ridgevew 39-32.
“We were just playing great basketball. Everyone who went into the game contributed in their own way, whether it was points, rebounds, assists, playing great defense,” Landwehr said. “When you play as a team, it’s so hard to just stop one person.”
In Peoria, the Braves took down No. 6-ranked Sterling Newman 54-44, its neighbor 38 miles to the north, before falling to red-hot-shooting Okawville 59-48 in the state championship.
While they initially were very much disappointed in losing the state title game, team members started coming around this week to the realization that the second-place trophy looks pretty good in the school trophy case.
“We’re enjoying it now more and how much it means to us and the coaches and the whole community. It’s a great accomplishment for our school to get second place. It’s the best finish we’ve had for boys,” he said.
Landwehr will be taking his game to the next level with a long list of college suitors, including the Illinois Institute of Technology, North Central College and Monmouth College.
He plans to study engineering, which is appropriate for whichever school lands his talents, because he is an engineer on the court.