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Keigan’s comeback: Titans’ Kenney savors varsity action after two ACL tears

Memorial (24-6) vs. Barbers Hill (28-6)

21-5A tiebreaker for No. 1 seed; 7 p.m. Friday, Dayton High School


Titans’ bi-district game scheduled

• Regardless of the outcome of Friday’s tiebreaker, Barbers Hill and Memorial will play a doubleheader at Pasadena ISD’s Phillips Fieldhouse on Tuesday.

Barbers Hill will play at 6 p.m. and Memorial will follow at 8. The winner of their tiebreaker game for the No. 1 seed will take on Crosby, while the loser will meet Galveston Ball.

Click here for an updated UIL basketball playoff tracker.

In three words, Keigan Kenney summarized his road to finally seeing action on Memorial’s varsity basketball team following two tears to the ACL in his right knee.

“A long one,” the senior said. “I came a long way, and I’m just happy to be able to get back on the court.”

Before another question was asked, Kenney had already fathomed the difficulty of the comeback road.

“It was devastating,” he said. “I was kind of depressed, watching all my bros play.”

Granted, the Titans achieved a lot with the 6-foot-5 forward sidelined, like winning the school’s first team state championship in any sport last year. But Kenney, among others, figured he would be among the on-court contributors.

His classmate, starting point guard Armand Callihan, remembers the player Kenney showed he could be on the varsity level.

“Our sophomore year, he was able to do everything on the court,” Callihan said. “He could shoot. He could dribble. He could post up. He could make plays from anywhere from the court, from the post, top of the key, wing. … He did it our freshman year, when we won district in 6A, which is the highest level.”

Then came the adversity.

He sustained his first ACL tear that October and missed the entire season. The Titans, who had just dropped to Class 5A, reached the Region III quarterfinal round.

Kenney said his doctor allowed him to play on the injured knee for summer ball on a limited basis. That’s when the injury struck again.

“I was in Vegas, playing AAU,” he said. “It probably wasn’t strong enough, but my doctor wanted me to see if it was OK for me to play. He just wanted me to play a few minutes. That was it. Things happen.”

Kenney was in San Antonio last March, seeing Memorial take down Justin Northwest in the 5A state final. He just had yet to take the court as a varsity Titan.

“He was always an important part of the team, whether it was traveling, helping out with practice or just being around his peers, which I though was good for him because most people, when they get injured, they want to shut it all down and go home,” Titans coach Alden Lewis said.

“But the fact that he stuck around for two hard years, that just tells you how big of a person he is.”

And now, Kenney “is back,” Callihan said.

“He’s not the player he used to be, but every once in a while, he’s able to revert back to his old self,” Callihan continued. “I don’t know how, but he does it. It means a lot to play with him. I’ve been playing with him since middle school. To put on the same jersey and play with him every day is a good feeling.”

Kenney was cleared in time for the current school year, and he’s made the most of the time he’s seen on varsity with averages of 5 to 6 points and 8 to 10 minutes per game.

“I feel relieved,” he said. “I feel great.”

From taking dual-credit courses between Memorial and Lamar State College Port Arthur to seeing long-awaited high school basketball action, senior year is going quite well for Kenney.

“Keigan’s always been a sharp student,” Lewis said. “He always made good grades [and is] a model student, but the best part about it, coming back from the two injuries he had, he’s coming back with a stronger mind.

“He’s taken a little while to get back in form, but the mentality he has and trusting his knee and wanting to play is tremendous.”

Following high school, Kenney will have an academic career waiting, with computer engineering the likely major.

“It’s just that age where it’s a lot of technical [things],” he said. “So, I figure that’s the way to go.”

Kenney hasn’t ruled out trying out for a basketball team wherever he goes to college. He’s just preparing for life after hoops.

“Things can be taken away from you quickly,” Kenney said. “You can’t take it for granted.”

For now, Callihan is savoring every minute he gets on the court with him.
“He’s going to play as hard as he can,” Callihan said. “It may not look as good as he used to, but he’s going to try. As long as everybody on the court is trying, as long as I’m trying, as long as we’re trying hard, that’s all we can ask for.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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