This was supposed to be Chris McGrath’s long-awaited chance to experience a district tournament. Instead, the Cascade High School boys basketball star’s prep career is likely over.
McGrath, a senior guard, injured his left ankle while making a jump shot early in the first quarter of Cascade’s Western Conference North Division victory over Arlington on Friday.
A fourth-year varsity starter, McGrath is Cascade’s primary leader and top scorer. He was averaging 17.7 points per game before the Arlington game.
McGrath suffered the injury when he landed after releasing a mid-range shot and stepped on an Arlington defender’s foot.
“Right when I went down (the ankle) felt super heavy. I tried to get up and I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t get up,” said McGrath, who set a school record last season with 49 points in a game and was a member of The Herald’s All-Area Boys Basketball first team.
McGrath, who was helped off the court Friday by two Cascade coaches, has a severe high ankle sprain. He tore two ligaments and strained a third, he said. McGrath, who is using crutches and wearing a protective boot, was told he will be out four weeks — too long to return in a season that concludes March 6.
“To have it end this way is awful,” Cascade coach Jamar Williams said.
McGrath plans to see an orthopedic surgeon on Friday and learn more about his prognosis.
Cascade (11-4 in division) has clinched the Wesco North No. 3 seed for the upcoming 4A District 1 tournament. The Bruins’ final regular season game is tonight at Stanwood (13-2). Thanks in large part to McGrath, Cascade qualified for districts for the first time since 2006.
“That was really tough,” said McGrath, “because I’ve worked so hard and the team has worked so hard playing together. Just to find out that I’m not going to be able to play with the team in districts really hurt.”
With McGrath sidelined, Cascade beat Monroe on Tuesday in Everett. It was Cascade’s senior night. McGrath was honored in the pre-game ceremony, but it wasn’t the final home game he had dreamed of.
“I’ve always wanted to go out there on senior night and play a good game for my parents,” he said, “but I had to go out there on crutches.”
From the bench, McGrath rooted for teammates, letting them know he still believes in them.
“He did a great job staying positive and encouraging guys,” coach Williams said. “He really cares about these guys and this team.”
“I’ve got to switch roles,” McGrath said, “and (go) from being a leader on the court to a leader on the bench.”
Asked about his college plans, McGrath said he will play basketball and has been in contact with several coaches but is undecided.
Mike Cane: email@example.com. Check out the prep sports blog Double Team at www.heraldnet.com/doubleteam.