JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
San Antonio native and Central Catholic High School graduate Cole Martinez idolizes Golden State Warrior Stephen Curry for his shooting. In fact, he tries to emulate his game after the NBA star.
Sunday, Martinez played just as well as his idol, scoring 18 points off of six 3s to help the U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School defeat Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., 117-67 en route to the 36th annual Joe Hall Basketball Tournament championship title.
Teammate Cameron Michael, who had a team-high 25 points, won the most valuable player award. Martinez was rewarded with the Joe Hall Sportsmanship Award in front of family and friends, who were in attendance at the Chaparral Fitness Center.
Being a recipient of the Hall award was another great honor for Martinez.
He was named the San Antonio Express-News boys basketball player of the year this past spring before accepting a nomination to the U.S. Air Force Academy Prep School in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"It's definitely an honor," Martinez said. "This tournament was named after (Joe Hall) so I guess I represented everything that he did."
The tourney is named after Hall, a star player and coach at Lackland in the 60s and 70s. He passed away from cancer.
With a 70-34 lead, the prep school had the game won by halftime.
Dunks, lay-ups, 3-pointers and steals were part of Air Force Prep's arsenal the team capitalized on Tinker's fatigue.
Tinker had defeated the Lackland Warhawks just two hours earlier in the loser's bracket to advance to the finals in the double-elimination tournament.
Despite the overwhelming lead at halftime, Martinez said the game is never really over until the clock hits double zeros.
"You've got to keep playing hard until the final horn sounds," he said.
Air Force Prep head coach Bob Cavera, who has won four of six Joe Hall Championships since becoming coach six years ago, said not much can be told to the team when they have a 36 point lead at the half.
"I told my players to continue to play the game the right way," he said. "Continue to make the extra pass, play defense and do a good job on the boards."
Cavera praised Martinez and Michael for their hard work.
"Those two guys are just rock solid," the coach said. "They both know how to shoot the ball tremendously well.
"Cole is a pure shooter, and Cam has a knack for putting the ball in the basket whether from the inside or outside."
Cavera also praised Martinez for his consistency. "Once he's on a roll, he's pretty hard to stop."
"Cole is a gym rat. He loves the game and is eager to improve. You can't ask for anything more as a coach," he said.
Martinez hopes to be a coach once his playing days are over, but after winning the Joe Hall and Express-News awards, his game is just getting warmed up.
"I've always been a confident person," Martinez said. "I've always tried to achieve more and I'm never satisfied.
"This is just another stepping stone for me to build from and go on from there."