By Trey Williams
Playing basketball during a pandemic with severe knee tendonitis posed no shortage of challenges, but Trevor Hensley had his moments during his junior season at Milligan University.
So did fellow Unicoi County alums Halie Padgett and Kaylee Hendrickson, whose Milligan teammates included another former Blue Devil, Chloe Powers.
Hensley, a 6-foot-2 junior and Unicoi County’s all-time leading scorer, averaged 10.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists while helping the Buffs compile an 11-10 record.
“The season was certainly unique with its challenges,” Hensley said. “Our team went through one quarantine as a whole team, and I went through two myself. It’s a crazy thing to try to handle as a basketball team because maintaining conditioning is so important for it, and that’s pretty much impossible when being locked in a house for two weeks. Through the adversity, we still were able to make a lot of memories this season.”
Certainly, adversity strengthens bonds. And camaraderie wasn’t a scarcity.
“I think one of the coolest things of this season was how we were able to push through together,” Hensley said. “We were essentially a brand new team but were able to come together time and time again to push through the challenges we faced. We went down to Reinhardt (Jan. 30) down some players, but found a way to win. We came together as one team and it was a lot of fun and an experience that I think really speaks to the potential we have as a team moving forward.”
Hensley has two basketball families that will enhance improvement. His younger brothers, Nicholas and Grant, can provide resistance in the driveway if need be.
Nicholas was a freshman on the Milligan junior varsity team and Grant averaged around 10 points per game as a sophomore for Unicoi County.
“Having brothers invested in this game with me changes everything,” Hensley said. “It’s hard for me to even think about going to the gym in the offseason without them. I am extremely blessed to have them.
“The competitive spirit among us only pushes us all three even harder. Every offseason we get to work out together again gets more and more exciting because we’re all just a little bit older and the gap closes just a little bit more and fuels us all even more. I wouldn’t trade our battles in the gym for anything. They’re memories we’ll have for a lifetime.”
Milligan coach Bill Robinson got a good look at Hensley’s competitive spirit while watching him have relatively effective season despite playing with pain.
“Trevor continued to battle knee tendonitis throughout the season and I believe it really affected his shooting,” Robinson said. “But he still averaged double figures and was second on the team in both assists and steals. We look forward to the offseason where he can get healthy and continue to get better both on and off the court.”
Injuries were also an obstacle for the Lady Buffs’ Padgett. The 5-foot-11 junior missed five games early during Milligan’s 8-16 season.
Padgett averaged 6.7 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.
“Halie’s preseason injuries certainly set her back, and we are thankful that she was able to play the whole year,” Milligan first-year coach Kylie Russell said. “We can count on Padge to defend a strong post player and she has that knack for putting the ball in the hole. Her game was different than last season due to injury, but I’m looking forward to her continued progress.”
Hendrickson, a 5-foot-2 sophomore, averaged 2.8 points and 2.1 rebounds.
“Kaylee made great progress this season,” Russell said. “Early in the year she was a person who consistently made good things happen in practice and got the nod as a sub early in the season. She took advantage of her time on the floor, and by the end of the year she was a big contributor. Her scoring came along at the end of the season to go with the great passing and solid defense she had been providing all season. It was really fun to watch her build more confidence each day, each game.”
Powers, a 5-foot-6 sophomore, provides a lot of intangibles.
“Chloe is one of the most enthusiastic and hard-working players we have on the team,” Russell said. “She elevates our environment every single day. Chloe is also a very high IQ player, strong communicator and is willing to fill whatever role she needs to. She’s a great teammate.
“I look forward to the progress each of them will make this offseason. All three of them are great teammates, and it’s really fun when two of them make a play with each other.”