By Larry Gage
Special to the PRESS
Kaiden Martinez is a sophomore and first-year Varsity member of the Port Isabel High boys’ basketball team. The Press found him in the main gym this week as he took a break from practice with ice on one ankle.
“Everything’s going good,” Martinez said as he operated the clock used for timing each drill of that day’s practice. “I’m still looking forward to playing in Thursday’s scrimmage at Sharyland.
Like most Tarpon hoops players Martinez has stayed active in the game ever since the end of last season, when he played on a junior-varsity team that lost only two games.
“I played a lot of travel ball with a lot of these guys during the summer. Myself, Daniel (Rinza), Dennis (Lozano), were all on the same team. We went to San Antonio, played in three tournaments, and won all three.”
Basketball is Martinez’s primary sport – in fact it’s his only sport.
“I played football my seventh and eighth grade years, but once I got to high school, I just wanted to focus on basketball.”
As it is with so many high school athletes, it’s a family thing.
“My Dad was a basketball player and he always wanted me to play, and I just fell in love with the game.”
Martinez was asked about those aspects of his game that he feels he can make the most of in helping the Tarpons win this season.
“I grab a lot of rebounds and I can see the guys open and hit them with the kick-out (pass).”
“I’m a good shooter. Of our starting five all of us can shoot and take the ball to the rim if we need to.”
As if hard work on the court isn’t enough Martinez also works with a personal trainer.
“I have a personal trainer and I train three to four times a week to just get stronger and more powerful. He (his trainer) lives right down my street, so it’s very convenient.”
Martinez is very much aware of the history made by the Tarpon teams of the last two seasons, and he looks forward to continuing the trend.
“We’re looking forward to making more history this year. We’re hoping to make it past the third round of the playoffs. And we’re looking forward to being district champions. We really don’t want anyone to beat us.”
Two years ago the Tarpons became the first Tarpon team ever to make it to the third round of the playoffs, and last season they set the school single-season record for wins at 26.
After a bit of trouble with his courses last year, Martinez is doubling down this year on academics.
“This year I’m trying harder to stay on top of things,” he said.
Martinez’s course load includes such subjects as Geometry, Chemistry, and English II.
Martinez definitely has an easier schedule to manage than many of his schoolmates because he has very few activities other than academics and sports – actually just the one sport.
“It’s mainly basketball. I go to basketball practice, then home, then to training and I get home around 8:30 or 9:00.”
Homework is not much of a problem because, “Most of the time I finish my work in class.”
Martinez does take the time to watch the game on TV and when he does it’s usually the pros.
“I watch a lot of NBA basketball. My favorite team is the Lakers. I also like the Rockets – my two favorite players are LeBron James and James Harden.”
The Tarpons had two scrimmages scheduled for this week, both on the road: Thursday at Sharyland, then Saturday at Los Fresnos. They will host Brownsville Jubilee in their season-opening game next Tuesday, on November 19.