COACH KEVIN REILLY took a stroll across the basketball court at Thomas Edison High and abruptly came to a stop.
He was 30 feet from the basket.
"I've seen him shoot them from here," he said. "And I never tell him not to. 'Cause he makes them."
This is very much open to argument, of course, but a strong case could be made that Luis Martinez, a 5-10, 200-pound senior wing guard, is the best long-distance shooter in city scholastic history.
This much is fact: On the list of guys who've drained at least eight treys in a game, Martinez' name appears four times (three eights and a 10); no one else has accomplished the feat more than once.
"I love to shoot those long ones," he said. "I'm always working on my shot. Making sure I've got the proper release. And that nice rotation.
"I read up on three-point shooters. I was always a big fan of Reggie Miller's. Now that guy could shoot. I even know about Larry Bird. I follow what he said, that the more backspin you have on your shot, the more chances it has to go in."
The final yesterday in a Public A game was Edison 92, visiting Abraham Lincoln 56.
Is your mind racing? Are you getting excited? Are you figuring Martinez must have mad-bombed like crazy?
Sorry to disappoint you, especially with Christmas a day away. Martinez succeeded from deep only twice (in nine attempts). But his two connections likely occurred on his longest attempts - one was at least a 25-footer - and he enjoyed an impressive overall performance, and deep down, isn't that what it's all about?
In a 21-minute stint, Martinez totaled 20 points, four rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals.
After he missed his first four shots, he blew past a defender and converted a lefthanded flip (he's righthanded) while drawing contact and then completed the three-point play. Later, on some of his passes, he darn near made the ball talk.
Yes, there's more to Martinez than treys. For those who care to notice.
"When I see I'm off early, I have to do other things," he said. "Plus, it's fun getting my teammates involved. This team is real good about giving up the ball."
If anything, Martinez probably had too much room at the start.
"Since everybody knows about my shooting, we've been facing almost nothing but man-to-man from the gate. And some box-and-ones on me," he said. "I was shocked when Lincoln came out in that 1-3-1. I had so much time for my shots. I wasn't used to that. I don't like missing open shots. Gets me frustrated.
"When I leave here, I've got work to do. I'll be playing more ball tonight. My old heads get me into Cramp Elementary, at Howard and Ontario. I'm always working on my shot."
All 13 Owls scored. Eduardo Rivera and sub Curtis Jennings tallied 12 points apiece while nailing four and three treys, respectively (the team had 12). Akeem Chisholm (six) and Jennings totaled 10 assists, and Ernesto Sanchez grabbed seven rebounds.
The spectators went crazy as Francisco Medina, a strong 6-6 junior brand-new to hoops, registered three rejections on the same possession just after entering the game, and then later got two more; he played no more than 3 minutes. They also loved seeing another deep sub, Donte Baker, hustle for five points and three steals.
Baker's brother, George, finished his Edison career just last season. He holds the city's one-game mark for threes with 13.
Can Martinez outsnipe Baker?
"Nah. C'mon, you know me," Baker said, laughing. "Threes. That's me, man. That's what I do."
In a practice last season, Baker sank 27 straight downtowners. Just a few weeks ago, Martinez hit and hit and hit and hit and . . . his streak reached 24.
"Should have been more," he said. "No. 25 was in, then rolled out. It was part of our regular shooting drills. After I got to maybe 15, everybody circled around. That was fun. I've always thought I could hit more in a row than George. I still have more chances.
"Coach Reilly is a big fan of three-pointers. We have drills from all over with 50 total shots. Stand-stills. Off the dribble. Even from NBA range. Hey, sometimes you do have to shoot them from far. Since George isn't here anymore, me and [Rivera] go at it in practice.
"He's good, too. He beat me once or twice."
Martinez, who lives near Front and Cambria, will take the SAT next month. He acknowledges he needs to improve his academic standing.
"I'm just hoping some coach will come look at me. I definitely want to go to college," he said.
And keep putting points on the scoreboard, trey at a time.
"I love threes," he said. "Nothin' like 'em." *