Knoblauch joins Raider 1,000-point club
Tamaqua’s Brayden Knoblauch celebrates on the floor at Martz Hall in Pottsville after scoring his 1,000th-career point on Dec. 30. Joining Brayden for the photo are his mom Jill Barron, his father and Blue Raider head basketball coach Jim Barron, and his brother Chayse Barron. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Brayden Knoblauch has always been a scorer.
The Tamaqua senior has averaged double figures in each of his four years as a member of the Blue Raiders varsity basketball team. He has never shot less than 77 percent from the free-throw line in any season, or averaged less than two three-pointers a game.
Knoblauch has proven time-and-time again during his career that he knows how to score the basketball.
If that point needed any validation, it came on Dec. 30 against Pottsville when Knoblauch scored the 1,000-point of his career.
“It’s a really cool milestone to hit,” said Knoblauch. “There have been so many great basketball players here at Tamaqua, and to realize that I’m one of a small group to accomplish the feat is really humbling.”
Knoblauch became just the 14th Blue Raider boys basketball player to achieve the milestone — and it might be safe to say that none of the others took so little pleasure in scoring.
That’s because in spite of all the flattering offensive numbers he has accumulated, Knoblauch doesn’t think or talk like a scorer.
Instead, Knoblauch sounds like a point guard.
“I honestly think I get more excited about making a good pass that leads to a basket than I do about scoring a basket,” said Knoblauch. “I’ve always been a pretty good shooter, which has allowed me to score a lot of points in my career. But I take a lot of pride in my passing and my ability to get everyone else involved offensively when I’m on the court.
“There’s something about the pride you feel when you’re able to make a nice pass that leads to a teammate scoring ... that’s a feeling I really enjoy.”
Tamaqua coach Jim Barron — who also happens to be Brayden’s father — said that type of unselfish attitude is what makes him special.
“Brayden is more worried about how many assists he gets in a game than how many points he scored,” said Barron. “He has the type of attitude that every coach wants one of his best players to have. It doesn’t matter to him how much he’s scoring. All he cares about is winning.
“When your leading scorer is your hardest worker and is as unselfish as Brayden is, that sets a great example for everyone else and helps create great team chemistry.”
But as important as Knoblauch’s unselfishness is, Tamaqua still needs him to score to be successful.
That’s been especially true the last two years. A year ago as a junior, he averaged 17 points a game and drilled 56 three-pointers in helping the Raiders compile a 15-8 record. So far this season, Knoblauch is on pace to surpass those numbers. Through 14 games, he’s averaging 18.7 points per game and has made 43 three-pointers as the Raiders have sprinted out of the gates to an 11-3 record.
“Brayden has been in the gym with me since he’s been 3-years-old and has taken thousands of shots during that time,” said Barron. “He has always had a perfect shot. He has such a pure stroke, He has the perfect arc, the perfect rotation ... every time he releases it, it looks like it’s going in.”
Most players with that type of shooting touch play basketball year round.
Knoblauch doesn’t have that luxury. A talented three-sport star who also excels in football and baseball, Knoblauch has to make time to keep his shot pure.
“I play football in the fall, basketball in the winter, baseball in the spring, and then try to work on both football and basketball in the summer,” explained Knoblauch. “A lot of time after lifting and conditioning for football, I would come in the gym and shoot around for a while just to keep sharp.”
And although he might take more enjoyment in passing the ball, Knoblauch knows how important his shot and scoring are to the team.
“Passing, rebounding, defending ... I pride myself on being able to contribute any way I can on the court,” said Knoblauch. “But I know when the team needs me to score I can help out that way too.”
That’s something he’s proven 1,000-plus times — and counting — during his career.