McHENRY – Johnsburg's Morgan Madsen and Megan Madsen have played basketball competitively together since about fourth grade.
And the twin sisters' time spent on a basketball court goes back much further than that.
So when Morgan Madsen missed the final month of last season with a knee injury, it was a big adjustment period for both sisters and the team. At the time, Morgan led the Skyhawks at 16.2 points a game, and Johnsburg remained in contention for the Kishwaukee River Conference championship.
Only a month earlier, the Skyhawks lost four-year varsity player Kayla Stefka to an ACL tear, ending her season. Stefka was averaging 16.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and two blocks a game.
"It was so weird playing without her because we've played our whole lives together," Megan Madsen said. "We were already without Kayla, and then Morgan went down. That made the season difficult for everyone.
"It will be good to have her back."
Despite mounting injuries, Johnsburg finished 17-14 and placed third in the KRC behind conference champion Burlington Central and runner-up Marengo.
The Skyhawks advanced to the Class 3A Ridgewood Regional final but lost to Chicago Resurrection, falling a game short of the program's third straight regional championship.
Morgan Madsen avoided major injury and missed about two months before rejoining Megan on their travel team, ALL IN Athletics. Now, the Madsens are looking forward to their fourth and final high school season together.
Both would like to continue playing basketball at the next level, but neither has made a decision yet.
"Obviously, when I go to college, I'm going to miss playing with my sister," Morgan Madsen said. "We're going to make the most of our last year."
Both Madsens have a good chance at surpassing 1,000 career points this year. Morgan enters her senior year with 872 points. Megan has 765 after averaging 19.5 points a game last year after Morgan's injury. Megan also led the Skyhawks with 3.1 assists a game.
First-year Skyhawks coach Erin Thomas, a 2012 Richmond-Burton graduate, said she has been impressed with the leadership skills and daily effort from the four-year varsity players.
Thomas is the Madsens' third coach in four years at Johnsburg.
"They're vocal leaders on and off the court; they lead by example on the court," Thomas said. "I don't see anyone outplay them ever in a game. They're competitors, and every game, you know you're going to get 100 percent effort out of them. I think that's a really big thing to have on your team. Everyone can look up to them as examples.
"Every day, the girls all show up to camp and work hard. I couldn't ask for a better group of girls."
Katelyn Davis is the only other senior returning on the Skyhawks. She averaged a little less than four points a game as a junior and was one of Johnsburg's' biggest 3-point threats at the end of the season.
The Skyhawks might even get a third Madsen this season, freshman Macey, who has mixed in with the varsity players this summer.
"We're just trying to improve each day as a team, in every game and in every practice," Morgan Madsen said. "I think we've already come a long way this summer. It's going to be a good year."