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Pfohl Is All Heart And Hustle

Emma Pfohl really can’t explain it. It was as if something just magically clicked inside of her. Pfohl, a Kenmore West senior, came to the realization that her days as a high school basketball player were coming to and end. And she wanted to make the most of every single second.

“I never appreciated basketball more than I have this year,” Pfohl said during Wednesday’s practice.

“I just love the sport. Something clicked in my head in the past year to make me fall in love with the sport. I want to go as far as I can with basketball. I love coming to practice. Everything.”

After losing the 6-foot-tall Samantha Britton, who ranks among the Lady Blue Devils Top-10 scorers, to graduation there was a need for someone to step into that power forward style role that Britton played. Pfohl has filled that role, and then some. A 12 point, 10 rebound outing in Ken-West’s 53-32 win over North Tonawanda on Jan.17 is just a sample of the impact Pfohl has made this season.

“It seems like every morning announcement I’m talking about how she had a double-double the night before,” said Kenmore West Lady Blue Devils coach Jeff Martin.

Pfohl’s presence in the paint has been the catalyst for the Blue Devils turning their season around after opening with three straight losses.

Easily in the best shape of her high school career Pfohl, who also played soccer for Ken-West, has an air of confidence in herself like never before. Not just in basketball, but in everyday life. She carries herself with the desire to set goals and the belief that she can attain them. Coach Martin said that Pfohl truly began to find herself during the Sweet Home League last summer.

“It started last summer. That’s when it really started,” Martin said. “That’s when she started to blossom. Everybody in the summer league was like ‘who is this kid?’ Her confidence just rose so high and it’s she brought it with her to the first 10 games of the basketball season. She’s been outstanding. She’s been a great hustler for us. She leads by example. She’s extremely tough. Very tough. She’s a very tough kid and she loves to play defense.”

After lockdown defender Grace Ferguson was lost to a knee injury during the soccer season one of the biggest questions coming into the new season would be who would do that dirty work? Who would bring the grit that Ferguson did? Who would step up and be that heart and soul player every team needs. Emma Pfohl has filled that role.

“Well I think, honestly, every single game Emma improves,” Grace Ferguson said. “She’s just stepped up as such a leader on this team. And I think this year she realized that’s she’s a senior and this her last year and we all know how much she loves basketball and how much we all love playing with her because she’s just so encouraging all of the time. I think she just pushes herself every single day to get better.”

Pfohl said that seeing her best friend unable to play was also part of what is pushing her to do more for the team.

“Grace is my best friend and she can’t play and someone needed to be there,” Pfohl said.

“I’ve always looked up to her and she’s not there anymore and I had to prove to her that I could take her spot.”

Pfohl’s grit and determination in evident every time she touches the basketball.

The Lady Blue Devils really don’t have any set plays to get Pfohl the ball for an open shot. Every point she gets is from winning the battles under the baskets. The put backs. The rebounds.

“I knew I had to fill that spot,” Pfohl said. “Coming into the (season) I knew I had to bang girls to get a rebound, that’s what I had to do. Every time I go into a game I just want the ball in my hands so I’ll hit who ever I need to, to get the ball.”

Watching from the sidelines Ferguson has a unique view of Pfohl’s impact on the floor and what she brings to the team.

“I think, especially since losing Sam, we needed that strong forward,” Ferguson said. “We have Anna (Quinlan) and she’s probably our best three-point shooter, and we needed someone down low on the block that was going to be tough. Just fill that spot and Emma did. She stepped up just like we needed her to. Even more than that because she’s such a great leader. She really brings a new energy to the team that we really, really needed this year.”

Martin said the way Pfohl plays serves as an inspiration to the rest of the team. The others see that Pfohl might not be the quickest or most naturally gifted player. But her combination of confidence, hard work, and determination gets the job done.

“They see what she can do and they say you know what I can do that too,” Martin said. “It’s all effort. It’s all heart. It’s all hustle.”

And it’s all Emma Pfohl.

“Ever since summer league I’ve just wanted it so badly,” she said. “I think I’ve improved so much and I don’t know. Something happened to make me want this more.”

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