Winters Mill boys basketball senior forward Wes Martin emerged from the locker room with a grimace and a noticeable limp.
His ankle will be sore today, collateral damage from an otherwise successful evening.
Despite hurting his ankle in the second quarter and briefly leaving the game, Martin had 13 points in Winters Mill's 60-44 victory over South Carroll on Friday night.
He provided a needed first half boost. Led by senior Silas Kelly, South Carroll led 15-11 after the first quarter. Martin erased that with back-to-back 3-pointers. Moments later, Martin crumpled out of bounds. He landed wrong near the baseline and immediately clutched his leg.
Winters Mill fans debated whether he could return. He did, early in the third quarter, and quickly hit another 3-pointer. Martin, a fiery player, clinched both fists at his side and yelled, "let's go."
His team was well on its way, leading by double digits the entire second half, much to the delight of a student section dressed in black and wearing red Santa Claus hats. More than once, those standing fans chanted Martin's name.
"I couldn't let my teammates down," Martin said. "Keon [Claiborne] wouldn't do that. Braedon [Dorsey] wouldn't do that."
So he fought through, giving the Falcons a needed complimentary scorer. The Falcons (3-1, 2-0 county), who average 71.5 points per game, have perhaps the county's best backcourt duo in Claiborne and Dorsey. But Winters Mill might need more than that to reach its goals of a county championship and an extended run in the Class 2A playoffs.
Martin provided scoring Friday. Reserve senior forward Spencer Eysaman, who received extended minutes due to Martin's injury, had six rebounds.
Claiborne, the reigning Times Athlete of the Week, had 13 points and four blocks. Dorsey had a game-high 18 points and five assists. After a two-point loss to Gerstell Academy on Dec. 12, Dorsey said he felt as though he let his teammates down.
Dorsey missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have beaten Gerstell. He also struggled with foul trouble in that game. After the South Carroll win, he said he felt much better.
"Big-time difference," Dorsey said. "We weren't going to let that happen again."
A nightmarish second quarter proved detrimental for the Cavaliers (2-3, 1-2). South Carroll was outscored 24-6 in the period. Cavaliers guard Andrew Buckley (team-high 14 points) was the only Cavalier to score in that quarter. Senior forward Silas Kelly had 10 points and three blocks.
"Second quarter is what got us," South Carroll coach Jim Carnes said. "We've got to be able to get under control."
This was the first game of the year where Claiborne did not score 20 points or more. And perhaps that was not a bad thing for the Falcons. Carnes credited Winters Mill's inside-outside scoring for being too much to overcome.
"I thought they played a terrific game," Carnes said. "They hit big shots."
Martin, with his four 3-pointers, seemed like he was destined to hit more of them until his ankle tightened up. He gingerly walked out of the gymnasium, a small price to pay for a victory against another county program.
"Hopefully," Martin said, "the ankle will be all right."