Annandale's Knickerbocker near top of state in scoring

Annandale's Knickerbocker near top of state in scoring


Annandale's Knickerbocker near top of state in scoring


Chase Knickerbocker gets asked about his last name all the time.

It is unique, after all.

“It’s Dutch,” Knickerbocker said. “My dad is from Maple Lake originally and our family is pretty small. There aren’t a whole lot of Knickerbockers around.”

Knickerbocker has certainly put his family’s last name on the map the past three seasons playing for the Annandale boys basketball team. The 6-foot-6, 175-pound guard/forward was fourth in the state in scoring entering Thursday night’s Section 5-2A playoff opener against Milaca.

Knickerbocker is averaging 27.3 points per game this season and just recently passed the 1,400-point barrier for his career. He’s also averaging 6.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks a game this season.

He’s been the heart and soul for a young Annandale (16-10) team that wasn’t expected to contend this season after taking second place at the Class 2A state tournament last March.

“I knew he was our only guy with experience coming back as we were walking off the state tournament floor last year,” Annandale head coach Don “Skip” Dolan said. “He’s become such a pure shooter. I didn’t realize all the work he had put in during the offseason until practice started.

“He’s great off the bounce and is really hard to defend. He’s really been our cornerstone, especially since we have a lot of freshmen and sophomores around. He’s had a tremendous year.”

Knickerbocker has been named the Times’ Prep Athlete of the Week for his performances last week. He dropped 34 points on Mound-Westonka in a 70-62 win for the Cardinals last Friday night.

Before that, he had 27 points on Feb. 17 in a 65-51 win at Litchfield. The win at Mound-Westonka clinched a share of the Wright County Conference’s West Division title for Annandale with Glencoe-Silver Lake.

“We came out really ready for that game,” Knickerbocker said. “We wanted to win the conference so bad. No one thought we would be in this position this year. We graduated so many guys from the state tournament team. I knew our younger guys could play. They’ve put us in the position we’re in. It’s nice to see the reward for their hard work.”

Besides Knickerbocker, the Cardinals have relied on 6-4 freshman forward A.J. Hinz and 6-5 sophomore forward Jarod Wilken. According to Dolan, both players can go inside and out like Knickerbocker.

“Those guys’ play has allowed Chase to play point guard and the wing. They have really been able to free him up more,” Dolan said. “They all are a tough matchup for anybody. Our kids can really play. They come at you hard. The pieces have really come together for us.

“Since we put (Hinz and Wilken) into the lineup after Christmas, we’ve really had a good physical presence out there. They’ve been a real surprise.”

Knickerbocker is headed to play at Minnesota-Crookston next season. He knows he has to fill out a little more headed into his collegiate career playing in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference with the Golden Eagles.

“That’s the big focus for me this summer,” he said. “I know how physical the NSIC is. I think I’ve put myself in a good position to play right away up there. I know I need to put in a lot more work. I just want to be able to compete for a spot.”

Crookston has a first-year head coach this season in Dan Weisse. The Golden Eagles were 7-19 entering their first-round NSIC Tournament game at Minnesota State-Mankato Wednesday night.

Knickerbocker hopes he and his recruiting class can help Weisse turn the program around in the future. The other recruits include Roseville guard Kobe Critchley, Stillwater guard Connor Gamble and Breckenridge 6-7 big man Nate Lorenz.

“We have some business we want to take care of up there,” he said. “We like (Weisse) and the coaching staff a lot. He really made me feel at home up there. I really like the small-town environment.

“There’s a pride thing for us going up there. We want to go up there and make the program competitive. Our entire recruiting class comes from winning high school programs. We want to start a winning tradition up there.”

If the Cardinals beat Milaca Thursday, they will likely face St. Cloud Cathedral (22-4) in the next round of Section 5-2A play at 1 p.m. Saturday in St. Michael.

Nobody said playoff basketball was easy. Annandale knocked Cathedral out of the playoffs last season.

“The strength of our section is that it’s anybody’s game,” Knickerbocker said. “We’re the fourth seed in the section and I’m sure we’re being overlooked. We have some ground to make up. We know how tight every game is going to be. It’s going to be really competitive and a lot of fun to watch.”

Follow Andy Rennecke on Twitter @AndyRennecke. Contact him at 255-8735.


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