Brittany Martelle has developed a certain pregame ritual in her four years as a standout guard for the Brookfield girls basketball team.
"I have my uniform on from the time I get home from school until game-time," Martelle says. "Ask Jackie (Brown), she knows."
Of course she does.
Brown, a senior co-captain for the Bobcats, practically knows Martelle inside and out.
They are the two leaders of a team that coach Maura Keenan calls "a special group."
They've been through a lot together at Brookfield.
As two of just three seniors on the team (Claudia Bartoli is the other), Martelle and Brown were present two seasons ago when the Bobcats missed the state playoffs with a 6-14 record.
Now, they've directed the Bobcats to a 20-4 record and a berth in the Class M state championship -- uncharted territory for Brookfield girls' basketball.
Naturally, Martelle considers Brown to be one of her closest friends.
And that's what makes the morning of Tuesday, March 9 even stranger.
Brown was sleeping in her room when her father walked in to ask her a question.
He had just read an article in The News-Times that said Martelle was nominated for the 2010 McDonald's All-American High School game.
He was a bit surprised Brown never mentioned anything to him about it.
"That's news to me too," Brown informed her father.
In fact, it was news to pretty much everyone.
Martelle received word in December that she was one of 80 girls' basketball players in the New York Metro region to be nominated for the prestigious All-Star game.
She didn't feel the need to tell anyone.
Keenan knew, but like Martelle's teammates, she needed the newspaper to find out that there was a ceremony at the McDonald's on Federal Road in Brookfield to honor her achievement.
The ceremony started at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, three-and-a-half hours before the tip of Brookfield's Class M quarterfinal game against Morgan.
As always, Martelle was in her jersey ready to play.
First, she was presented with flowers and a certificate from McDonald's owner Paul Trefz.
She then took a few pictures with Keenan, her family, and a trio of McDonald's executives who work to promote community involvement and the All-American game, which takes place on March 31 in Columbus, Ohio.
Following the photo shoot, Trefz offered her a complimentary meal.
Martelle politely declined.
"Not on a gameday," she said.
As she later admitted, her mind was elsewhere when she was presented with her certificate, one that just four area players (Pomperaug's Katie Cizynski, Kasey Dean and Nicole Welton were also nominated) will receive.
"I just wanted to get on the bus and go to the game," Martelle said.
Well, not before a little pit-stop.
"Brittany does a lot of extra work outside of the team," Brown said. "She goes to "The Y" (in Brookfield) and shoots like 100 or 200 shots before we even get on the bus. So, she's kind of warmed up before we do our warm-ups."
Maybe that explains why Martelle, Brookfield's leading scorer (15.6 points per game), stood under the basket and rebounded as the rest of her team shot around in the minutes before Tuesday's quarterfinal game over Morgan.
Or maybe Martelle did so because she couldn't care less about how many points she scores.
Maybe when she echoes the cliche "It's all about the team" line, she actually means it.
Teammates and coaches insist her selflessness, an attribute that every star athlete strives to portray, is 100 percent genuine.
"She's got a full scholarship to college (Franklin Pierce University) next year, she's getting tremendous awards and she cares nothing more than what this team is doing," Keenan said. "She'll give herself for this group."
"If that McDonald's thing was occurring during a practice," Keenan continued. "She would have been at practice."
The cat is out of the bag now.
Everyone on the team -- and in the area -- knows that Martelle is a McDonald's All-American nominee.
But, going into Saturday's semifinal game against Tolland, not many people knew that Martelle was 13 points away from breaking Brookfield's all-time scoring record, a mark that has stood since 1979.
And that's been the furthest thing from her mind.
"A lot of players would be gunning, driving to the hole, trying to get the record," Keenan said. "Brittany leads our team in assists."
Indeed, Martelle has spent the last few months counting wins, not points.
"We'd be like `Oh Brittany, how many more points until you break the scoring record,'" Brown said. "And she'd have no idea."
After an 18-point performance in Saturday's win, that 31-year-old record has been broken.
Brittany Martelle has now scored more career points than anyone -- male or female -- who has played basektball at Brookfield.
But that achievement, of course, has taken a backseat to the something bigger -- the most successful season in Brookfield girls basketball history.
"That's why I love her," Keenan said. "That's why this team loves her."