Before practice begins Monday, one of the Chico players bounces the ball hard off the hardwood. Marshall Anderle glides through the air, catching it in stride before slamming it home.
It’s an impressive feat for the 5-10 senior – even more impressive considering he’s jumping off one healthy leg.
Anderle tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during the Dragons’ second football scrimmage. But instead of opting for surgery that would have taken him out of his senior year, he’s put on a brace and fought through the basketball season to help Chico make the playoffs for a second straight year.
Going into Wednesday’s second-place tiebreaker with Santo, Anderle has averaged 14 points and 8.8 rebounds during 11-A play.
“He’s done an unbelievable job,” said Chico coach Chad Woodard. “He’s just braced it up and went on. I’m proud of what he’s done. He’s got a good attitude and has been a big part of our success.”
Anderle suffered the injury midway through the scrimmage.
“A kid landed on me and tore my ACL and MCL,” Anderle recalled. “They said I could put a brace on it and try to play and have surgery after I graduated. Because it’s my senior year, I couldn’t play again if I had surgery.
“If I could tough through it, I could play.”
Anderle chose to tough his way through it and returned to play the final two football games in the fall at linebacker and receiver.
“I was scared at first about how I would do,” he said. “My first game, I got an interception and went from there.”
On the basketball court, the knee injury has not slowed him down. He has scored as many as 26 points in a game and posted eight double-doubles.
“He’s been the big guy that we don’t have,” Woodard said. “He doesn’t let it bother him. He does what he can to help the team.”
Anderle says the knee has not caused him much pain.
“Every now and then, it feels weird. It feels like it did,” he said. “It’s not really toughness. It’s just that I want to play. I love playing all the sports.”
Anderle expects to play baseball and golf and run track in the spring after basketball is over.
But for now, he’s concentrating on basketball and helping the Dragons make a playoff run. Depending on the outcome of Wednesday’s game, the Dragons will either be the second or third seed out of 11-A and open the playoffs next week.
“I love being with my team. I’d be here supporting them if I couldn’t play,” he said. “I’m thankful for my team and what they’ve done to help me.”
That includes delivering a bounce pass for a showtime dunk.