Updated: February 23, 2021 10:57 PM
Created: February 23, 2021 10:30 PM
Last season the Duluth Marshall girls basketball team was two games away from the program's first state title appearance. Covid canceled the tournament and delayed this season, but it wouldn't stop one Hilltopper from shattering a Northland record.
Last Thursday Giannia Kneepkens put up 34 points against Duluth East. It felt like a typical day for the senior guard who averages around 42 points per game, however this night was special.
With her toes pressed against the free throw line she'd sink a shot making her the Northland's all-time leading scorer in girls basketball.
"It's super cool to be able to do that for my school," Kneepkens said. "They've given me so much and like [for] the community to be able to watch me I'm super grateful for them. It's pretty awesome to be able to do things for my school but then again I couldn't do it without them."
Kneepkens' name now sits atop a list of star shooters.
She surpassed Mountain Iron-Buhl's Chelsea Mason shortly after tallying her 3,000th career point against Pine City on January 29th. She then went on to break South Shore's, and now current WNBA Dallas Wings forward, Megan Gustafson's record of 3,229 points.
"It's just hopefully inspiring for other young girls especially in this hockey town," said Kneepkens. "You don't really see it happen a lot."
Duluth Marshall head coach Chibuzo Osuchukwu said, "it's her work ethic. I think people don't really see how how hard she works on and off the court if it's just film, stretching, if it's watching what you eat."
Osuchukwu said it's been amazing watching her strength, confidence and basketball IQ improve since joining the Hilltoppers as a sophomore.
"I'm grateful for her letting me be a part of the process. If it was recruiting, if it was her scoring 1,000 [points], it was her scoring 2,000, her scoring 3,000, just being along for the ride has been super amazing."
Off the court she continues working on her craft by studying the playing styles of six time NBA All-Star Paul George and UConn standout Paige Bueckers, 2020's number one recruit out of Edina.
"Coming out of Minnesota you definitely have to, with Paige Bueckers doing so well, you definitely have to look up to her because she's doing so well and she like kind of started and made Minnesota," Kneepkens said.
Kneepkens, a Division I University of Utah commit currently leading the state in five categories including points with 465, has established a legacy of her own.
"Anytime you bring up basketball in the Northland you're going to have to bring up Gianna Kneepkens' name," Osuchukwu said.
On Tuesday Kneepkens added 54 points to her total helping Duluth Marshall down Virginia 85-67 to improve to 11-1.
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