Mackenzie and Brian Kerns have Hinsdale South teams in Gold races

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Playing varsity basketball sometimes takes a dose of guts.

For Mackenzie Kern, that meant playing in pain Saturday when Hinsdale South resumed its season after a long holiday layoff. The Hornets’ last game was Dec. 21 in the Benet/Naperville North tournament and since then the only time on the court was during practice.

That turned into misfortune for Kern, a senior guard from Darien, who sprained the MCL in her right knee when she collided knees with a teammate Dec. 28 during a practice.

In the first game of 2014, coach Jen Belmonte started junior Gennifer Simpson, who scored a season-high 12 points in the 58-38 loss to Willowbrook, but Kern was determined to play. She entered the game with 1 minute, 43 seconds remaining in the first quarter and took a shot in the second quarter.

“I tried to run,” Kern said. “[I played briefly] partially because it was me being scared and because it hurt.”

The injury was the first setback this season for Kern, who is the top returning player from Hinsdale South’s two-time West Suburban Gold championship teams. She showed her offensive skills Dec. 10 when she contributed 18 points in a 58-36 win over Addison Trail.

“[Kern’s] role for us is to go out and play every day,” Belmonte said. “She’s not able to do that now, but she does what she’s supposed to do. She’s consistent. She will break a press; she can pass the ball inbounds, which is a key for us.”

Mackenzie Kern isn’t the only member of her family making an impact in Hornets’ basketball. Her younger brother, Brian, is a junior reserve for first-year boys basketball coach Brett Moore.

Brian Kern and the Hornets (11-3) will play their biggest game of the regular season at 6 p.m. Friday at No. 14 Proviso East (10-3). The winner claims sole possession of the conference lead. Hinsdale South enters the game riding a six-game winning streak.

Brian Kern remembers as a kid going to Mackenzie’s games with the Downers Grove Wolfpack, while his sister attended his games with the Darien Youth Club.

“My dad [Brian] taught us when we were little about how to dribble the ball,” younger Brian recalled. “I remember we had those little basketball hoops [around the house].”

Before enrolling at Hinsdale South, he played basketball, football, baseball and soccer, but has limited himself to just basketball in high school. He played baseball for a travel team and football for both the Darien Swarm travel team and Cass Jr. High teams.

Brian Kern has been playing for the Illinois Speed AAU team, but is looking for a new club for next season.

“Basketball is a lifestyle. I will always love the game. I can’t explain it,” he said. “I will always be in love with the game all my life.”

The next Kern athlete to come along will be Madison, who is currently playing volleyball for the eighth-grade team at Cass.

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