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High energy: Herbaugh’s all-out hustle gives Falcons a spark

Central's Kendall Herbaugh gets set to shoot in a game against Stonewall Jackson in Quicksburg on Nov. 29. Herbaugh has overcome several injuries and has played a key role in Central's success on defense. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK — Kendall Herbaugh was scared.

As the Central junior girls basketball player was taken to the hospital on Dec. 20, Herbaugh was worried about what her latest injury might mean for her season.

Herbaugh landed awkwardly in a game against Sherando on Dec. 20 and suffered a strained groin.

“I was terrified when it first happened, because all I knew was I couldn’t move my left leg without immense pain going from my hip all the way down to my knee,” Herbaugh said. “And their trainer said I could have possibly torn something. So all these bad things are going through my head, like I won’t be able to finish the season. I won’t be able to be there for my team. It was just a stressful time.”

Since it happened right before Christmas break, Herbaugh only missed one game for the Falcons. She said she still has to have it wrapped before every practice and every game.

The injury is one of several Herbaugh has had the last few years due in part to her all-out hustle and willingness to dive after every loose ball that she sees. Herbaugh missed a game last season due to a back injury after falling on her back during a game.

Central girls basketball coach Bryan Scott said the energy and effort that Herbaugh brings to the team is infectious to her teammates.

“I think when we see her hustle and her 100 percent effort, it does carry over to each individual player on the team,” Central girls basketball coach Bryan Scott said. “They’re always there cheering for her. That definitely feeds over to the other players without a doubt.”

Herbaugh said she’s always played with a lot of energy and all-out hustle.

“I get really tired sometimes, but I always give it my best,” Herbaugh said. “And I try to make sure everyone else is with us, because like coach Scott says it’s hustle, points and defense wins championships. And you get your defense up to get your offense up.”

Herbaugh also plays soccer at Central, where she is the goalie for the Falcons.

The 5-foot-7 forward said that part of the reason she constantly is diving on the floor after every loose ball is because she’s used to doing that on the soccer fields.

“Just seeing a ball on the floor, I just dive right at it,” Herbaugh said. “Because I just want it to be our ball, our possession.”

Despite the injuries, Herbaugh said she will continue to play the same way for her team.

“I definitely have had my fair share of injuries from doing that, but it doesn’t really go through my head at that point,” Herbaugh said of her playing style. “Usually what goes through my head is I need to get that ball for my team so we can make a play off of it.”

Herbaugh said part of her competitiveness comes from having an older brother. Herbaugh’s brother, Zach, was a three-sport standout and is a 2014 Central graduate.

“He’s constantly pushed me to be better,” Kendall Herbaugh said. “And he definitely has shaped me as well into the athlete that I am because he’s five years older. So there’s always been a big competition between us. And he’s always had the upper foot on me because he’s a lot taller, a lot bigger than me.

“He’s definitely been the root of my competitiveness, because we’re constantly competing over the smallest stuff.”

Herbaugh played on the varsity team as a freshman, and said the year was a very valuable learning experience for her.

Last year she had another solid season, but was mostly known for her defense and ability to do the little things that may go unnoticed.

This season, Herbaugh has been more of a factor on offense. She is averaging 8.1 points per game, and leads the team with 6.7 rebounds per contest.

“I think that each year her role has slightly changed,” Scott said. “Last year we had (2017 Central graduate) Tamra (Scott). So we had to look for somebody to pick up her scoring with her gone. So Kendall’s definitely stepped in and done a great job as far as scoring on the offensive end.”

Herbaugh is still a key cog in Central’s defense. She plays up top in the Falcons’ 3-2 zone, which has caused trouble for offenses this season. Central has held teams to 40 points or less in seven straight games, six of which were victories.

Herbaugh said she loves playing defense and the feeling she gets when the team makes a stop.

“It’s a good feeling just knowing that you were able to stop them and get points off that,” Herbaugh said. “It just helps build the lead. It just helps build confidence in the team itself, because defense is definitely one of our strong points. So when we get a stop it just helps keep our defense up and our energy up.”

The Falcons are 10-8 on the season and have a five-game win streak. Central is tied for second in the Bull Run District.

Herbaugh said the team is playing some of its best basketball.

“Right now we’re definitely on a high in our season,” Herbaugh said. “Now we’re hoping to keep our energy up and keeping up the way we play. We didn’t start out the way we were hoping to, but we were able to get in our groove.”