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Tonawanda's Pumm coming into his own

TONAWANDA - It was the kind of game that showed Connor Pumm just what he is capable of doing.

Pumm, a junior on the Tonawanda Warriors basketball team, came from virtually out of no where with a 17-point, 12-rebound night to pace the Warriors victory over Starpoint on Dec.11. It was the kind of performance that told

Pumm that he, without questioned, had arrived as a varsity player.

“It was a very big confidence booster. It was a game I really didn’t think I had in me,” Pumm said with a grin. “It was amazing.”

Now in his second season of varsity, the 6-foot-4 Pumm felt his role early on wouldn’t call for him to be a primary scoring threat.

After talking with coach Hank Hughes, Pumm expected to be more of a banger and crasher.

The guy who would battle for rebounds, loose balls, set screens and essentially just do all of those little things that a team needs to succeed.

“He wanted me to fill the position of rebounding and of course scoring a little bit, but not any big role,” Pumm said. “Just kind of be in there to get the big rebounds. Playing during the (summer league) season I think I got a better feel for the game. I think I haven’t really gotten there yet, but I’ve taken a big step.”

Hughes has said without question Pumm has certainly delivered on the boards and in the little things that tend to fly under the radar screen.

The game against Starpoint, as well as Pumm’s showing against NT, proved how much he can contribute in all aspects of the game. Pumm said a greater knowledge about the X’s and O’s of the game itself has led to better play on his part.

But Pumm is also finding out that consistency is part of the challenge of becoming a complete player. While his rebounding has still been solid-10PPG, his scoring fell to single digits in all three of the games after the Starpoint game. Hughes said it’s crucial that

Pumm maintains that offensive consistency because so many opponents are gearing their defense to stop senior Clayton Hess.

A modest, somewhat quiet young man, Pumm doesn’t really strive to be in the public eye.

He would much rather do his job under the radar and not have the pressure of being a primary scoring threat who is always in the spotlight.

Ironically enough that was exactly the role he had on JV. By virtue of his size he was the JV Warriors inside threat and top scorer.

“I think I’m more that rebouding guy now. I think I was that scorer on JV,” Pumm said.

“I’m nowhere near the hot-shot (scorer), and I’m perfectly fine with that. I’m just that rebounder guy, the one who sets screens. It doesn’t really take much of the pressure off, it’s just more of a role that’s better for me.”

Now the banger on the boards for varsity, Pumm seems much more at home with his role.

When assessing Pumm positive qualities Coach Hughes said what he likes the most is Pumm’s strong work ethic and his straight forward, respectful attitude.

“I’ve never really been a retaliating type of guy,” Pumm said. “My parents always taught me to be a respectful person.”

At a time when so many scholastic-athletes think something is owed to them, Pumm brings a humble, high quality character. Pumm is all about what he can do for the team.

“Connor’s never, ever been (selfish) like that. Ever since I’ve known him,” Hughes said. “He’s extremely classy. I think he’s good in the classroom, I think he’s a good natured kid. A good hearted kid. It is refreshing because so many kids kind of get arrogant and teenagers are teenagers. But he’s mature beyond his years.”

Knowing that high school basketball is an ever changing entity, Pumm is well aware that next year he will be needed to be carry much of the offensive load. Which is why is learning as much as he can right now from Hess.

“He’s a lot better than me. He’s a big role model,” Pumm said. “He really does know the game and knows how to play it.”
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