By Andrew Preston
For only the second time in the programs 23-year history, the Lady Trojans will have sisters on the same team.
Those two sisters, Megan and McKenzie Kilburn, originally from Summertown, Tenn., grew up playing basketball together their entire lives.
From one-on-one games in their backyard to the occasional games on the school playground, when it comes to basketball, the Kilburns know each other very well.
“We can read each other very well because we always have to guard each other. Really we know a lot of the little things [about each other],” said freshman McKenzie. “We know what the other is going to do, so we always have to change it up.”
Freshman McKenzie joins older sister Megan in a unique situation for the Lady Trojans this season. The Lady Trojans have had sisters play together only once before. Christina and Anna Curtner played during the 2013-15 seasons.
For McKenzie, joining Megan at Trevecca was the right decision–something she never doubted. Her interest in Trevecca was sparked when their family would come to visit Megan for a game or weekend outings while she was in high school.
Megan came to Trevecca after being introduced and later recruited by former Lady Trojans coach Gary Van Atta after an AAU basketball tournament.
Parents Michael and Melanie Kilburn are proud of what their daughters have accomplished.
“We come from a sports bunch. I coached middle school for 32 years, and they kind of grew up in the gym. They went to all my practices with my boys, and they always played with the boys. The girls took to it,” said Michael.
This season will be the siblings second official stint playing on the same team. They played once before during the 2012-13 season for Summertown High School. The Lady Eagles went 29-4 that year making it all the way to the Elite 8 before falling to Clarkrange High School in the playoffs.
“It was our game together against Clarkrange that I will never forget. Our team was struggling to score. I was the only one that was doing well, really. On that team McKenzie was one of two who came off the bench. When Coach put Kenzie in, she did outstanding as a freshman in a playoff game. We lost the game, but I knew she had what it takes to succeed after that night,” said Megan.
That game nearly three and a half years ago was the last time the two would play together until they are reunited this season at Trevecca. McKenzie added that she is looking forward to this season and playing with her older sister again.
“It’s feels like forever since we have played together, honestly,” said McKenzie.
Sisters fight, love and fight some more. This was a common theme within the Kilburn household as the two grew up loving basketball and trying to compete against each other.
“They’re typical sisters–they worry about clothes and stuff, who has on whose shirt and shoes, but they love their sports too,” Michael said. “They want to win at anything they’re playing no matter what it is. Monopoly [in our house] is an all-out war. If we go fishing–how many fish did the other one catch? Who had the most, and who had the least type of thing.”
The competition between them is mostly friendly.
“We’re two competitive players. It’s pretty rough sometimes playing together because we both want to be better than the other. We’ve ended in fights before, but for the most part it’s friendly competition,” said McKenzie.
They have had to figure a few things out to protect their relationship while being teammates.
“It’s like having another coach on your team,” said McKenzie. “She’s there to tell you what you’re doing wrong, to critique your game.”
Megan said she sees that as well.
“The hardest thing for me having Kenzie on the team is being hard on her. Sometimes I get negative and sometimes it’s tough playing your sister all the time,” said Megan.
But, there are lots of perks.
“We can go home and talk about how practice went and unwind together. It’s better having her on the team,” said McKenzie.
Megan said being able to connect on the court is one of those perks.
“The easiest part of playing with Kenzie for me is our connection with one another, she always knows where I want the ball,” said Megan.
Head coach Chad Hibdon likes what he has seen from the siblings so far in practice.
“One thing you get with them is a toughness and a great basketball background. There’s a special bond between those two,” said Hibdon.
Over Megan’s three-year career as a Lady Trojan, she has played in 72 games, put up 391 points 211 rebounds and 43 assists, all while performing well in the classroom. As a senior on the team Megan offered some advice to her younger sister.
“I was telling her the other day, you’re here for school first. Making good grades is your first priority. In college everyone is good [at basketball], so if you don’t play it’s okay. If you get two minutes of playing time, you kill those two minutes,” she said.
McKenzie and Megan’s parents said they are proud of them for working so hard.
“As a parent we’re proud of both of them. They’ve worked so hard to get where they are. People don’t realize how big of a commitment it is to make it to college basketball,” said Michael, “We’re very thankful to Trevecca for believing in them and giving them an opportunity to play.
Q: Who would win in a one-on-one pick-up game?
McKenzie: “Definitely me. I mean come on, of course. I’m the better one.”
Megan: “Probably me. I mean it honestly depends, we play 1-on-1 all the time. I am a lot stronger, and she’s a lot longer. We go back and forth all the time, but I’m definitely better. I always pump fake and I know she’s either going to foul me or I will score.”
Q: What’s your favorite basketball memory?
McKenzie: Playing with Megan in high school. Making the Elite 8.
Megan: Hitting a left handed put back as time expired to send a game to OT
Q: Who is your favorite basketball player?
McKenzie: Dwayne Wade
Megan: Candace Parker