Earlier this season, Atholton junior Joelle Martin sat on the bench and watched as his Raiders’ teammates lost a double-overtime heartbreaker against Centennial.
On Friday night, in the rematch between the two squads, Martin made sure history wasn’t going to repeat itself.
Coming off the bench and scoring a career-high 26 points, Martin led the way to a 72-57 victory over the Eagles in the first county game for either squad in more than 10 days.
“As a team we felt like we needed that win back. That loss the first time was a learning experience for us and we were ready today,” said Martin, who missed the first six games of the season while sorting out an eligibility issue. “Today was all about coming out strong and not letting up.”
Martin, who scored 16 of his points in the first half, added five rebounds, three assists and two steals to his well-rounded evening. He was joined in double-digits scoring by Michael Bernetti (15 points).
In the loss, Centennial got 16 points apiece from Chase Conley and Isaiah White.
The first quarter was a back-and-forth affair with each team holding the lead and neither squad leading by more than four points. But, as Martin heated up in the second quarter, so did the Raiders.
An 8-0 push in the second quarter, during which Martin and Bernetti accounted for all of Atholton’s points, helped the Raiders push the lead into double digits for the first time.
“Coach was telling me to attack the gaps every time I saw an opening … there were a lot openings in their defense early on,” Martin said. “Then as they started collapsing on me, I looked for my shooters.”
Centennial got back within nine at the half, 36-27, courtesy of a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Walter Fletcher (7 points).
The Eagles failed to get any closer than seven points, however, in the second half despite some inspired play by Conley, who scored 14 of his 16 points in the final 15 minutes.
The Raiders ended up building a lead of as many as 20 points, 64-44, in the fourth quarter following a 10-0 run.
For an Atholton team that was coming off a loss to Oakland Mills its last time out on the court, it was an inspired effort from start to finish.
“Even more than sitting on that Oakland Mills loss, we had been sitting on that loss to those (Centennial) guys for awhile. I feel like the kids really wanted another shot at them after letting that one earlier in the year slip away,” Atholton coach Jared Albert said. “The truth is, I think that game made us who we are. It woke us up a little bit and helped us grow into the team we are today.”
Atholton 72, Centennial 57
A (10-2, 11-3): Martin 26, Bernetti 15, Ballmer 7, Willis 7, Purdue 6, Mendelsohn 3, Brickous 2, Kelly 2, Kwong 2, Mercilliot 2.
C (7-5, 10-5): White 16, Conley 16, Brown 9, Fletcher 7, Tignall 3, Wilkin 3, Strothers 2, Wilson 1.
Half: 36-27 A.
River Hill 57, Howard 43