Our expectations are to compete extremely hard night in and night out and to play as a team. We have a lot to replace from a successful team last year. Our strengths will be our hustle and unselfishness. We will be outsized at several positions by most of our competition this year so it will be a key to be very efficient in what we do both offensively and defensively. We cannot allow easy baskets and must make teams work for every basket.
The Knights finished with a 16-10 mark a year ago finishing 3rd in the Prairie conference and losing to Battle Lake in the sub-section semi-finals at UMM. They lost five seniors from that team in Ben Anderson (All-Conference), Brady Endreson, Rylee Peterson (Honorable Mention All-Conference), Jake Winningham and Nathan Wrolson.
The Knights lost four starters but do return five lettermen who contributed to some degree on last year’s squad.
Returning contributors from last year are senior Jake Combs (6 ppg, 4 rpg), senior Aaron Wiese (1 ppg, 1 rpg), and juniors Brady Sabolik (7 ppg, 3 rpg, 3 apg, 2 spg), Logan Paulson (5 ppg, 4 rpg), and Ross Anderson (2 ppg, 3 rpg, 2 apg).
Others expected to contribute off of a successful JV team are seniors Alex Endreson, Caden Fernholz, and Jack Nelson and juniors Nathan Kaye, Logan Nadgwick, Dawson Staples, and Colton Wutzke.
Knights coach Kraig Hunter said, “We are hoping to have a good mix of players. We have a couple of physical post players, a few kids with quickness, and we have several kids who have put in time shooting over the summer. We also have some kids with good basketball IQ. In addition to the five players who saw some minutes last year, we are hoping to get some quality contributions from Jack Nelson who has put in a lot of time in his game in the off-season.”
Hunter feels the Section will be an extremely tough schedule this year as most of the teams return numerous underclassmen again.
“In the south half, Battle Lake and Hancock will probably be the favorites. Battle Lake has been the top team for a number of years and that shouldn’t change this year as they still have a lot of talent. Hancock is loaded with talent and experience at every position and they probably have the section's best player in junior Noah Kannegiesser. Ortonville, like Hancock, returns their whole team from a 16-8 season last year and are also loaded with talent all-around as well as depth. Brandon-Evansville and Parkers Prairie will also return most of their teams from last year and will also be very tough. Brandon-Evansville has size, they are physical at every position and have multiple shooters. We hope to be in that mix as well.”
Wheaton, CGB, BBE, and Ashby round out the 6A south sub-section.
“Hillcrest, LPA, Waubun, and Norman County East should all be tough in the north half”, said Hunter
The Knights are new to the Pheasant conference this year. The 7-team conference will consist of Brandon-Evansville, CGB, Hancock, Hillcrest, Ortonville, WCA, and Wheaton. Hunter feels Hillcrest, Hancock, Ortonville, and Brandon-Evansville will be the top teams to compete with.
Players lost to graduation:
Ben Anderson (All-Conference), Brady Endreson, Rylee Peterson (Honorable Mention All-Conference), Jake Winningham and Nathan Wrolson.
Top players in Sub-Section:
1) Eric Van Erp, Battle Lake -Sr
2) Noah Kannegiesser, Hancock -Jr
3) Nate Treinen, Ortonville -Sr
4) Travis Yohnke, Parkers Prairie - Soph
5) Britton Conroy, Ortonville -- Sr
6) Chandler Gramm, Hancock -Sr
7) Tyson Powell, Ortonville -Soph
8) Tyler Reese, Hancock -Sr
9) Andrew Johnson, Parkers Prairie -Sr
10) James Strese, Brandon-Evansville -Jr
11) Tanner Bitzan, Brandon-Evansville -Freshmen
12) Taylor Bitzan, Brandon-Evansville -Jr