Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)
For the past month, fiends and family reached out to Tyrese Martin letting them know how excited they were for his return home.
Martin, an all-state player at William Allen High School, is taking a prep year at Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Virginia before he attends Rhode Island next year.
On Sunday, Martin was back playing in the Lehigh Valley for the first time in almost a year, as Massanutten took on Westtown in the Hoop Group’s Lehigh Valley Showcase at Parkland High School.
Martin did not disappoint those there to see their local star one more time. The 6-foot-6 guard scored 31 points in an 84-82 victory against Westtown.
“This game meant a lot,” Martin said. “Everybody came out and showed love, so I felt like I had to put on a show.”
Martin found out about the game in August. Along with the excitement of playing near his hometown, he was excited for the matchup with Westtown’s Cam Reddish. The Duke commit currently is ranked the No. 3 player in the country by ESPN.
ESPN currently has Martin rated as a three-star recruit, outside of their top 100. He said part of what he wanted to prove on Sunday was that rankings don’t matter.
The two guarded each other during the game, and the battle between the teams’ two starts stole the attention of the crowd throughout Sunday’s contest. The mostly pro-Martin crowd got on Reddish throughout the game. He shushed them multiple times after knocking down 3-point shots.
Reddish and Martin seemed to match each other shot for shot during several stretches of Sunday’s game. Reddish finished with 32 points, including six threes. Martin made seven threes. His biggest came with 1:11 left in regulation and Massanutten trailing by one. He fired away from way downtown with Reddish in his face to put his team up by two.
“He made a lot of tough shots, and I felt like after he made tough shots the gym went crazy and I had to step up again and go make a play,” Martin said of Reddish. “It was one of those games where I felt like the team said they were just going to ride with me, so whatever I did they just followed me and helped me push through.”
The crowd included several of Martin’s former Allen teammates. Wearing their blue warm-up suits, they sat in the first few rows of the bleachers during the Westtown-Massanutten game.Though they played Liberty in the game after, the Canaries players would not leave their seats in the stands until the game was over.
They were particularly lively after a Martin dunk in the second half. Martin looked over at them, pumping his fist as he went back down the court.
“Tyrese Martin was in the house...I could not get my team in the locker room to get through a pregame because they wanted to come out here,” William Allen head coach Doug Snyder said.
“That’s what it’s all about,” he added. “Guys move away from high school and move up to that next level, and next year he’ll be at Rhode Island, but that was wonderful.”
Though they may not have had their usual pregame routine, the Canaries survived a two-point halftime deficit to beat Liberty 72-64 in the final game of the day. Liberty’s Alex Serrano scored 30 points, but a well-rounded effort, including a 12-point and 12-rebound performance from Jasiah Lopez helped William Allen come out on top.
“It was tough to prepare for this game, and I thought we were flat coming in, but I kind of understood why and I wanted our guys to see Tyrese play almost the entire game, which was just a wonderful thing for our Allen High program,” Snyder said.