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Move across bridge to Whitehall works out for basketball standout Kendall Osborne

The senior guard still has many friends in Montague and good memories there, but she’s adapted to new school and team.

WHITEHALL – Montague has been Kendall Osborne’s comfort zone for as long as she can remember.

Prior to her senior year, the Osborne family made a tough decision: Kendall and sophomore brother Hunter were transferring to Whitehall.

“Whitehall was just a better overall fit for my family,” said Kendall Osborne, the 18-year-old daughter of Dave and Deb Osborne.

It still wasn’t easy, especially with Montague being all she’s known in addition to her father serving as a successful, long-time boys varsity basketball coach at Montague and both of her parents being alumni of the school.

Following the 2022-23 basketball campaign, Dave Osborne resigned after 16 seasons at the Montague boys helm. During his tenure, Osborne compiled a 235-111 overall record with four conference titles, three district championships, and one regional crown. In the 2008-09 season, he guided the Wildcats to their lone state semifinals appearance in program history. He was also part of three 14-0 conference title teams at Montague, one as a player and two as head coach.

Adversity hit Kendall Osborne hard on Dec. 8, 2022, in the fourth game of Montague’s girls season and what looked like a promising junior year for her. She suffered a torn ACL in her left knee in a home game against Whitehall and missed the remainder of the season.

Montague’s Kendall Osborne is consoled by teammates and others after she suffered a knee injury against Whitehall on Dec. 8, 2022, at Montague. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

After several months of rehabilitation for her knee, then returning to the court at a new school, Osborne seems to have settled in well at Whitehall.

“We are extremely proud of Kendall for taking on new challenges. It has been a great opportunity for her to get outside of her comfort zone and meet new people and experience new opportunities,” Dave Osborne said.

“I feel like Kendall has transitioned seamlessly. Fortunately, the White Lake area is pretty small by comparison, so she already had many friends and acquaintances at Whitehall High School.”

Naturally, Whitehall’s girls basketball program welcomed the talented, experienced, 5-foot-10 guard with open arms.

It took Osborne a few games to knock off the rust and get comfortable being back on the floor, but she’s emerged as a go-to player for the Vikings. She ranks second on the team in scoring (10.5 ppg), but she’s first in just about every other major category, including rebounds (9.7 rpg), assists (2.6 apg), steals (3.2 spg), deflections (100 total), and minutes played (625 total).

Whitehall is 9-13 overall this season and finished 6-6 in the West Michigan Conference Lakes Division, good for third place. Tonight, the Vikings play in a Division 2 district opener at Fruitport. Whitehall will face Oakridge at 5:30 p.m. in the third meeting this season between the teams. The Vikings swept the regular-season matchups against the Eagles.

“Whenever kids transfer schools, it is tough,” Whitehall coach Brian Milliron said. “My daughters transferred from Coopersville to Whitehall and it is a tough thing to change your school friend group and have to integrate to a new school system.

“Kendall has done a great job of integrating academically, socially, and with basketball. The transition has been seamless because of her attitude and because of how well our girls have accepted her into the group. It is something we emphasize and the girls have done a great job with it. This is especially true of her fellow seniors: Lucy Zamojcin, Allie VanAntwerp, and Taylor Ottinger, who welcomed her with open arms.”

Whitehall senior Kendall Osborne (1) and her teammates compete against Ravenna on Dec. 21, 2023, in Ravenna, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

Osborne said it’s been a fairly smooth transition to Whitehall, outside of not having a larger group of long-time friends like she did at Montague.

Zamojcin transferred to Whitehall in middle school, so her being there has made Osborne’s transition a little easier. For Osborne, having Zamojcin around has been a relief.

“I have a few friends that I’ve had all growing up that I don’t get to graduate with (at Montague), which breaks my heart, but I still live in Montague so I’m not away from them other than school events,” Osborne said. “They’re still the people I hang out with on weekends and outside of school.”

At Whitehall, Osborne is carrying a 3.7 GPA. Presently, she is taking a mix of virtual and Muskegon Community College classes.

She has not decided on a college destination or whether her future will include basketball.

Milliron describes Osborne as a mix of “goofy, shy, happy, driven, competitive, and fun.” If you were to ask her, Osborne has that attributes covered in her family.

Deb Osborne sits in the stands with sons Hunter and Garde as they watch Kendall Osborne and her Whitehall team compete against Ravenna on Dec. 21, 2023, in Ravenna, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

“My dad’s and my relationship is so genuine. My dad and I get along well and have a lot of similarities,” Osborne said. “My mom and I laugh 95 percent of the time and can talk about anything. My sister Braquelle is my best friend and has been my mentor all growing up. My brother Hunter and I are also super close and I think he’s the funniest person ever. Garde is my baby brother but has the smartest mouth out of all of us. I can see him being rich when we’re older.”

Osborne said her dad has been her biggest supporter, not only in basketball but across the board when it comes to athletics. She said he’s pushed her to be a better player and person, but that he also holds her accountable.

Sometimes they may go back and forth on the sidelines, but she credits her dad for continuing to be patient and supportive.

“Growing up, my favorite sport has been basketball, probably because I’ve been around it with my dad coaching,” she said. “I enjoy basketball because there’s so much you can do. It’s a sport you have to have so many skills for. It’s a team sport as well as an individual sport. You create great relationships with coaches and players through such a long season.”

Photo by Courtney Jimison | CatchMark

Things weren’t so easy for Osborne after her knee injury. In her words, it was “honestly horrible.” She was close to the seniors on last year’s Montague team and she was looking forward to finishing the season with them.

It was tough for her in the classroom, too, trying to stay mentally engaged while dealing with the physical pain.

As a point guard, Osborne likes having control of the situation.

“It was so challenging to bounce back (from the injury). For me, I lost motivation throughout the recovery process, which made me mentally checked out,” Osborne said. “Physically, it was hard being limited to basic, everyday things like walking, jumping, running, sitting, and standing up, etc. Being limited to those things really makes everything 10 times worse.”

Osborne is not alone with the knee issue. VanAntwerp has been rehabilitating an ACL tear, so they’ve been able to support and identify with each other.

“Kendall was hesitant at the beginning of the year, but she has grown so much from the injury. She is not back to her junior year dominance, but she is getting closer to it every day,” Milliron said. “It took a few games, but since Game 4 she is averaging double-digit rebounds each game, which is a sign that she is mentally and physically moving past her injury.

“This injury is a two-year recovery to be back to full strength physically and mentally. I just wish we had her another year.”

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

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