MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Turns out mother knew best, and on the biggest stage of his life, Donte' Grantham heeded mom's advice.
With 11 seconds remaining and Martinsburg up 55-52 on Woodrow Wilson in the Class AAA state championship game on March 16, Grantham was fouled. He nearly sprinted to the other side of the floor and toed the foul line.
"When we watch games, my mom always tells me, 'This guy is going to make these free throws,' " Grantham said. "She said when a guy runs to the foul line, or sees a guy run out of a timeout to find the man he's guarding on defense, he is going to succeed because he's confident and ready to go.
"So when I was fouled, I wanted to get the foul line. I just knew I was going to make those free throws."
He knocked both down and clinched the state title for Martinsburg. It was fitting that Grantham was at the line, finishing off the Bulldog's 26-2 state championship season with the final points of his career. The 6-foot-7 Grantham finished with 20 points and 17 rebounds in the state championship victory.
Grantham was the best player on the state's best team and finished the season being named the Evans Award winner as the state's top basketball player by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
"Donte' is well deserving," Martinsburg coach Dave Rogers said. "He picked this team up and carried it the last seven games and refused to let us lose. He did what he was supposed to do. We've had a lot of great players over the years, and Donte' is right up there with the best."
In a program renowned for great players, Grantham is the first player to score 1,000 points and grab more than 500 rebounds. He finished with 1,067 points and topped 600 career rebounds.
He is just the second Martinsburg player to win the Evans Award, joining current assistant coach Marsalis Basey in the elite group. Basey went on to star at West Virginia.
"He deserved it," Basey said. "He was dominant. There were times during the season where I thought maybe he wasn't playing as well as he could. When he had to step up, he did it. That's the mark of a winner."
For the season, Grantham averaged 18.3 points and 9.1 rebounds. He also had 54 steals, 44 assists, 46 blocked shots and 33 3-pointers.
Grantham was a point guard early in his career, before a growth spurt from the summer before his freshman year to his junior year saw him shoot up from 5-9 to 6-7.