Titans' Martin earns second All-Area MVP award

Wednesday , May 02, 2012 - 7:29 PM

Brittney Martin poses for a portrait on Wednesday, April 25, 2012. Martin is the Standard-Examiner...

Dennis Larsen

SYRACUSE -- The countdown is under way with Brittney Martin controlling the launch button.

In a month, Martin will be heading east, driving her car to Stillwater, Okla., for the next stage of her young life.

"I'm ready to be done with high school," said the 18-year-old Martin. "I'll miss the girls, the team and the coaches."

She has to be at Oklahoma State University by June 3; freshman orientation is May 31.

Martin played on teams that only lost one game since her sophomore year, a 67-59 defeat to Alta in the 2011 state 5-A championship game at Salt Lake Community College.

During her stellar four-year career at Syracuse High School, Martin helped put the Titans on the state girls basketball map with two 5-A titles (2010 and 2012), plus the state 5-A runner-up finish.

"Brittney is the best passer I've ever seen," said Syracuse coach Rob Reisbeck. "She was a scorer because we needed her to be, but if it were up to Brittney, she would rather average more assists than points. That's what made Brittney so great. I wouldn't surprise me to see her average double-digit assists at Oklahoma State."

Syracuse swept four Region 1 titles with Martin and Co., going 54-2 in league play since the 2008-09 season. The Titans also compiled a scintillating 89-5 overall record during Martin's four years as a starter.

"That (89-5) is just sick when you think about it," Martin said. "Winning region every year was pretty good, too."

Martin is the 2011-12 Gatorade Utah Girls Basketball Player of the Year, and she is also the Standard-Examiner's All-Area Girls Basketball Team Most Valuable Player for the second straight time.

"I didn't think about any of the stuff for me," Martin said. "I wanted the team to be successful and that's what everybody should want if they're on a team.

"Winning the Gatorade (Utah Girls Basketball Player of the Year) thing was pretty sweet," she said. "I never look at awards as I have to get that, I just play."

Martin, a 5-foot-11 small forward/shooting guard, is a four-year starter and four-time All-Area selection. She averaged 18.9 points (season-high 31 versus Weber) on 53.0 percent shooting -- 34.4 percent on 3-point attempts (11 3s) and 70.9 percent free throw shooting. Martin also averaged 6.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 4.5 steals and 1.6 blocks for Syracuse (22-0 overall).

"Brittney brought the team together as one; she did it more on her own," Reisbeck said. "It was a big impact on her losing that Alta game as a junior. Looking back on things, that loss to Alta helped us in the long run. We came back more focused and determined this season."

Martin is ranked as the nation's No. 19 recruit in the class of 2012 by the HoopGurlz ESPNU 100. She was also selected an honorable mention All-American by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association.

"After losing the 5-A title game to Alta, Brittney was determined to not let that happen again," Reisbeck said. "Her offseason conditioning and the way she worked in practice proved that.

"It was an awesome opportunity to work with Brittney, day in and day out. The most rewarding thing was to see her grow from her freshman season, not just on the floor, but as a person, too," he said. "There won't be another player like Brittney to come along for a long time.

"For her, winning the Gatorade Utah Girls Basketball Player of the Year would be one of the highlights and then the two state championships. We were 70-1 the last three years, but Brittney doesn't like the attention," Reisbeck said. "She would much rather set her teammates up to be successful. That's what made Brittney such a great player.

"When I first saw her play, I knew Brittney had the opportunity to develop into the player she became for us. There was something special about her."

Reisbeck remembers watching Martin play in the Dee Events Center as an eighth-grader.

"She got a rebound with one hand and went coast to coast with a finger roll at the other end. That was against varsity players," he said.

"To me, I think Brittney is the best player to come out of Utah. Going out of state just shows how good she really is and having the opportunity to play at a big-time university," Reisbeck said. "I think the sky is the limit for Brittney at Oklahoma State.

"It's been four great years with her and you don't like to see her go. But at the same time, you're excited to see what Brittney will do with the rest of her life. We're excited for her; summer school will be very beneficial to her." Martin is the Cowgirls only incoming freshman for 2012.

"It will be a lot of competition playing in the Big 12 Conference," she said. "It makes you a better player playing better players, and who doesn't want to get better? That's another reason I chose Oklahoma State is because of the conference."

The Cowgirls (22-12) won the WNIT this season with a 75-68 victory over James Madison.

"I want people to say I was unselfish and was a very good team player," Martin said. "That I had a good attitude and had a smile on my face. I try to be nice to everyone even if they don't like me. If I had my preference, I would rather get an assist than score.

"People won't remember the points, but they'll remember plays like a pass or a rebound," she said. "We wanted to play our hardest every game. Our first goal was to win region -- after winning the day's game -- and after that we looked at every game as a championship game."

So what's on Martin's bucket list?

"I don't have anything that I really want to do except travel the world," she said. "If I have to fly, I will. I would rather take a cruise, but I'm not a prolific swimmer."

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