The strong sour smell greeted anyone who walked into the Rutland locker room Tuesday night following the Hurricanes game against Westside.
In the corner of the locker room, Ty’lik Evans slowly put on his clothes. A few teammates watched and laughed.
To Evans’ right sat one of those plastic nacho trays with just a little bit of pickle juice left. Evans drank straight from the tray.
He had good reason to drink the pickle juice. It is often given by trainers to athletes to help ease muscle cramps.
On the coldest night of the year -- probably in many years -- Rutland’s human ball of energy was cramping up. It was understandable considering the pinball-like bouncing around the 5-foot-5 junior displayed in about 16 minutes of action.
Evans scored 21 points in less than three quarters with 18 of those points coming in the second half as Rutland pulled away from Westside for a 79-59 win in GHSA Region 2-AAAA play. Shakenneth Williams, Jalen Kirkland and Jaylon Tyson all scored in double figures. Damion Ottman led Westside with 17.
“(Evans) brings that confidence edge,” Rutland head coach Ron Christian said. “He’s going to step up to every challenge. It seems like he has that Napoleon complex, ‘I gotta be bigger than everybody else because I’m so small.’ But really he just has that in his heart.”
Evans didn’t play the first quarter, although Rutland led 14-12 following a banked in 3-pointer by Kirkland from just across halfcourt at the buzzer. The Hurricanes (10-2) outscored Westside 65-47 the rest of the way.
“I just try to give them some motivation and without the team, I can’t do any of it,” Evans said. “They tell me to not overthink, ‘Just be you,’ and it will come to you.”
Evans fired a 3-pointer immediately upon entering the game in the second quarter and missed, but his energy and presence seemed to have an effect on his team and certainly with the crowd.
Westside (7-7) stayed close throughout the second quarter and cut an eight-point deficit to two in the waning moments of the first half, but a Tyson bank-in 3-pointer at the buzzer gave Rutland a five-point halftime lead.
The Hurricanes ran away with the game in the third quarter, draining five 3-pointers in the first four minutes and eventually led by 14. Evans made three of them.
To say Evans hasn’t met a shot he didn’t like would be quite the understatement. He likes straight up 3s, transition 3s with no defender guarding the basket, across the timeline 3s, step-back 3s, basically any shot on the right side of the 3-point line.
“I like them all,” Evans said.
Westside closed to within eight in the fourth quarter, but Evans exploded for four layups and Tyson added another on a nifty, fake-pass layup to stretch the lead and eventually provide the comfortable win.