'He has been the face of the program': DGF's Owen Leach wraps up high school career with big senior year
The humble Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton star ended his high school basketball career with 2,869 points, leading the Rebels to a section championship and state tournament appearance.
GLYNDON — Since he was an eighth-grader, Owen Leach has been a fixture on the basketball court for the Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton Rebels. But, as the 2022-23 season comes to a close, so does Leach’s high school career.
Leach ended his prep career contributing to 100 Rebels wins. He scored a school-record 2,869 career points, with 977 of those coming in his senior year. Leach also had 1,211 rebounds, another school record.
Leach led the Rebels to the Class AA state tournament and was named to the state all-tournament team. He was recently named the Heart O’Lakes conference MVP and he's a 2023 Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association All-Star, in addition to a Minnesota Mr. Basketball candidate.
The accolades and his attitude put Leach at the top of DGF head coach Mike Clark’s list of players to ever suit up for the Rebels.
“Having played varsity since eighth grade, he has been the face of the program,” said Clark. “Owen has helped grow our youth program and is kind of a folk hero in our school district. It’s very cool to see the children’s eyes light up when Owen is around or when they are seeking his autograph.
“No doubt, in my opinion, he is the greatest basketball player in DGF history. I’m so very glad to have coached him.”
Through the years, Leach collected accolades and accomplishments. However, two things remained out of grasp for him and the Rebels until this year.
“I had a talk with Owen prior to the section championship game about his accomplishments and the things that eluded him, a section championship and state tournament berth,” Clark said. “As we all know, Owen proceeded to go out and score 50 points in that game, leading our team to a section championship. He has definitely earned everything he has accomplished. I’m so proud of the player and person he has become, as is the community. “
Leach's list of accomplishments also includes his hunger to always be better. He credited Clark, assistant coaches Robbie Strand and Aiden Leach — Owen’s brother who was a senior when Owen was a freshman — and his teammates for their support and the lessons taught through the years.
“The biggest part is that you can never be satisfied with what you have done,” said Leach. “When I was a junior, I didn’t feel like I was playing my best and I just went into the summer thinking of all the things I could do better — shooting, dribbling, everything.
“I think all the accolades just came with the hard work of our team. It’s cool to look back on the memories and there are a lot of people who factor into that, for sure.”
Though the Rebels had hoped to make it one game further and contend for a state championship, the team’s postseason run that ended in the semifinals against Albany was a fulfilling experience, Leach said.
“We were the only unranked team to win a game in the first round so that was really, really cool,” he said. “To win that first game the way we did, it was super cool. And just to get to that semifinal, not a lot of teams get to do that. There’s four classes in Minnesota, so 16 teams of 500 or so teams make it to the semifinals. It definitely meant a lot to us for all of the hard work we put in.”
Throughout the years, the Rebels have become a tight-knit group, he said.
“Those are the guys you lean on when things aren’t going great,” he said of his teammates. “We spent like four or five days down in the (Twin Cities) and we all had a blast. Just going through a tournament with each other and seeing each other in school every day. We’re not the biggest school so a lot of us are in the same classes, I think we just built a really good relationship.”
And it’s those kinds of relationships that are Leach’s biggest takeaways from his time at DGF.
“It’s the relationships I’ve built and the connections I’ve made through basketball and football,” said Leach, who will continue his basketball career at the University of Minnesota Duluth next season. “I’ll be seeing these guys down the road. I’m going to be four hours away but I’ll still be texting the guys I’ve been with my whole life and I know people will be checking in on me. I’ll be playing at (Minnesota State Moorhead) once a year so I’m sure I’ll see a lot of people around there (and) that will be super fun.”
Clark said Leach always led by example, noting that his work ethic and positive mindset rubbed off on more than a few players. But beyond the court, the accolades and accomplishments, Leach is simply a good person, Clark said.
“Probably the most important thing I would like people to know about Owen is that while he is the greatest player in DGF history, he is the kindest and most humble star player you’ll ever meet,” Clark said. “Too many star players let it go to their head and think they are above everyone else. It’s absolutely the opposite with Owen. He truly is one of the nicest persons you’ll ever meet.”