DANVERS — Perhaps never before in Danvers High basketball history has so much attention and focus been put on a player who didn’t score a point and played less than 12 minutes.
That’s the way it was last night for the defending state champion Falcons and their senior point guard, Eric Martin.
Martin’s value has never been measured in points. Danvers has grown accustomed to his presence on the court over the last three seasons, but availability was put in jeopardy when he suffered a hip flexor/groin injury in the Falcons’ loss to Brighton less than two weeks ago.
Martin missed Danvers’ final regular season game, but returned to play limited minutes last night in the Falcons’ 78-41 win over Greater Lawrence in a Division 3 North first round game.
Aside from the expected rust, Martin’s return was a success. The recently named Northeastern Conference Small Player of the Year seemed to be moving at or near full speed, and it seems he’ll be ready to go all out when Minuteman visits for a quarterfinal game Saturday afternoon (4 p.m.).
“It’s just getting better every day,” said Martin, who estimated he played at 90 percent last night. “I’ve pretty much been practicing every day and getting rest when I needed to, and tonight there were obviously times I didn’t have to play. We’re just getting me out when I need to be out, and I’m doing everything I can to get better.”
When healthy, Martin has the uncanny ability to run Danvers’ offense for a full 32 minutes while also playing relentless defense down the other end.
His return to the lineup last night obviously sparked the Falcons (19-2) on the defensive end. Playing primarily man-to-man in the first quarter, Danvers held Greater Lawrence scoreless and built an 18-0 advantage.