Jamie Williams heard a popping sound when pain shot up from her ankle through her body as she fell to the ground.
The 5-foot-4 Lake Norman Charter star point guard knew immediately that something was wrong as she laid on the practice floor with tears coming down her face on what was also her 17th birthday.
But what turned out to be a severely sprained ankle and a good reason to sit out a few games for most players, was only motivation for Williams to get back on the court.
"My ankle was pretty bad, I could barely walk that night and then I had a bad limp the next few days in school," said Williams. "But I knew my team needed me to play. There was a lot of pain, but when I got on the court the pain went away and adrenaline took over."
The very next night, Williams was back on the court, leading her team to a 51-19 win against Lincoln Charter.
"I don't think anybody thought she was going to play, including me, at first," said Lake Norman Charter basketball coach, Bobby Williams, who is also Jamie's father. "(The ankle) definitely slowed her down for a while, but she is a tough kid. She wasn't going to let it stop her."
Very few things, teams or players have stopped Williams since she stepped on campus at Lake Norman Charter. The junior point guard averaged 20 points per game both her freshman and sophomore seasons as a Knight, leading her team to a combined 35-8 record in that span.
Last season, Williams was exceptional, dishing seven assists, grabbing four rebounds and nabbing seven steals per game to lead Lake Norman Charter to a 19-4 record and a spot in the 1A playoffs in only their third year of existence.
"Nothing that Jamie does surprises me," said Bobby Williams, who first noticed his daughter's talent when she was just 9 years old. "We have a special relationship on and off the court. But when she walks into that gym and on that court, she always has her game-face on."
A lot of Williams' basketball ability and talent comes from a family tradition. While her father has been a high school and AAU coach, her older sister, Ashley, 20, was also a pretty good player at Hopewell, and her younger sister, Jennifer, 11, is already getting rave reviews from her siblings.
"I grew up in a gym playing basketball because my dad always coached boys (AAU)," said Jamie, adding that she and her sister grew up to love the game. "It became a part of us."
While her injury has slowed Williams a bit, this year has been another standout season, so far, as she is currently averaging 15 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals per game on a team that is more complete than in previous seasons.
The Knights got the season off to a 9-4 record, playing a much tougher schedule while preparing to enter the 1A/2A Southern Piedmont Conference next season.
"We have relied on Jamie the last two seasons a lot, maybe even too much at times," said Bobby Williams, the only head coach in the four years of the Knights' girls' basketball program. "I think other girls are starting to fill their roles a lot better and understand what it takes."
The other girls include senior center Mary Dixon, a co-captain on the team alongside Williams, as well as junior Katie Fabian, sophomores Maria Hoidas and Carolyn Huddy and two promising freshman in Alex Busch and Ezinne Mbamalu.
But while her supporting cast has improved, Williams is still the leader and starting to get her legs back under her.
In the David Wright Classic at Cherryville High, Williams scored 20 points or more in three straight games, including a 22-point effort in the semifinals against Castlewood High (Va.), where she netted her 1,000th career point, becoming the first basketball player to accomplish the feat in Lake Norman Charter history.
But Williams, who is already getting college interest from Arkansas, Gardner-Webb and Hollins University (Va.), hopes it is just a small part of their season as they look to win the Piedmont Athletic Conference (PAC) and return to the 1A playoffs, where they want to win their first post-season game.
"Right now, I think she's focused on getting better and leading this team," said Bobby Williams. "I'd love to see her get the opportunity to play college basketball, but we've a got a lot of things left to do here."