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Unionís Johnny Kennon returned to the court after missing last season due to multiple ACL injuries. He helped key a win against Crane, scoring 13 points, in the season opener. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
Kennon battles back despite suffering two serious knee injuries
Union may be a little tougher this season, and the credit goes to senior Johnny Kennon, who hustled up and down the floor, looking half robotic with a heavy brace on each knee during the opening weekend of the basketball season at the Union Lions Club Tournament.
“He’s a very dynamic player for us,” Union head coach Brett Dunten said. “He can score from the outside, and can score in the paint, too.”
For Kennon, this season of basketball is a gift.
During a summer league game in June of 2011, Kennon felt his knee pop in a game against Elgin. It wasn’t until a few months later that he got an MRI which revealed a torn ACL in his left knee. Five months later Kennon returned to practice. That’s when he tore the ACL in his right knee.
“It was a tough blow,” Kennon said. “I didn’t really know what to expect as far as a timetable to be able to come back.”
The other part that Kennon didn’t factor in was the mental side of not being able to play the sport he loves. He sat on the sideline his junior season, but still found a way to help out. Kennon did the scorebook for his coach. But, even that proved to be a difficult task.
“It was really tough,” Kennon said. “There were a couple of times that I shed some tears. I just wanted to be out on the court. It was really tough on me.”
But, toughness is what Kennon showed in his fight to get back onto the court. He did some of his rehab at Grande Ronde Hospital, and also went to JT Crossfit to help build muscle back into the knee.
Dunten know if Kennon understands how much he’s overcome.
“He’s been dealt with two major knee injuries,” Dunten said. “Some kids wouldn’t be able to come back from that. But, Johnny is tough on himself. He feels like he should be back all the way right now, but it’s going to take some time. He’s overcome a mountain of things over the last season and a half.”
Kennon said the light at the end of the tunnel came during the summer. That’s when we was released to resume basketball activities.
“I wasn’t too worried about it,” Kennon said. “I knew I would be back. That’s all I wanted was a chance to play my senior season.”
And, Kennon did return to the floor this season. However, a new issue has crept in.
“I have tendonitis really bad,” Kennon said. “It hurts going up and down the floor. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I wanted to be able to play this season. Not only for myself, but for my team. I think we have a chance to do some good things.”
So without complaining, Kennon goes through practice and does his sprints without complaining. And then he does the same in the game, with a hardly a grimace.
Kennon showed the hometown fans what he can do, scoring 13 points in the opening game of the season against Crane Friday. He followed that with a 12 point effort against Powder Valley in the championship game of the tournament.
“He’s a great presence on the floor,” Dunten said. “Johnny helps us be more mentally tough on the floor, because the boys know what he’s dealing with. It’s a tough thing to fight through the tendonitis each day. But, I think he knows that pain is just part of the gift he has to deal with.”