EDINBURG — Edinburg High senior Leslie Martinez, one of the Rio Grande Valley’s most versatile basketball stars who helped lead the Bobcats to new heights, signed to continue her academic and hoops careers at Coastal Bend College in Beeville on Saturday evening.
“I have been extremely blessed from my mom to my dad and their parents who have played not only basketball as a (college) sport, but other sports as well that provided them opportunities because they were so athletic,” said Martinez, whose grandfather played basketball at McAllen High and whose father and uncles played football at PSJA North.
“I think I was just blessed to play with that athleticism. I’ve worked for everything that I’ve got, but it’s just a plus to have them by my side and know the sacrifices and everything that I make for the sport because they were in the same shoes at one point.”
Martinez, who celebrated the occasion with family, friends, coaches and teammates with a signing ceremony at her grandparents’ home, signed her national letter of intent sandwiched between younger sister Larissa, a sophomore on the Bobcats varsity squad, and older sister Briana, her future college teammate and roommate at Coastal Bend.
“I got off the call with coach Nate (Purswell) and we both just hugged each other and cried,” she said after receiving her offer from CBC over the phone. “We never thought we would ever have the experience again to play alongside each other, so it was just a dream come true.”
In two seasons of varsity basketball at Edinburg High, Martinez helped lead the Bobcats to shares of back-to-back district championships and a pair of deep postseason runs.
She helped Edinburg High tally a staggering 69-13 overall record and a 5-2 mark in the playoffs, including a 36-4 record her senior season, the best finish ever for long-time Bobcats head coach John David Salinas.
Martinez certainly deserves some credit for the way the Bobcats season played out, after the senior rotated between stints at power forward, point guard and small forward as the team looked for creative solutions in the face of injuries and adversity.
“It was amazing to be part of such a program that could go so far into the playoffs and have an amazing record, and like coach (Salinas) said, I didn’t do it alone. I had every girl from that team from the bench to anybody that got the most minutes was extremely helpful,” she said. “Then to have my coaches by my side and my parents telling me that it’s OK to grasp a new position and I’m going to be OK and I’m allowed to make mistakes.
“It was a lot more helpful than me just putting so much pressure on myself to realize this is what the team needs and this is what I’m going to do. My coaches are tremendous coaches who have put me in the right position to succeed, and I thank them very much for that.”
When Martinez arrives in Beeville, the Cougars will be adding one of the RGV’s most versatile and well-rounded defenders and deep ball deadeyes.
She averaged 11.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists on 40% shooting for Edinburg High as a senior. Martinez, one of the Valley’s most dangerous stretch post players, and junior guards A’nnika Saenz and Daysha Tijerina also helped the Bobcats make more 3-pointers (240) than any other girls high school team in Texas.
“It was an honor to be part of the team that got (coach Salinas) his best record. We all love each other and we all worked together. I mean, shooters shoot,” Martinez said. “Most of our posts have a lot of confidence around the 3-point line, but because we’re there for them and tell them it’s OK to miss, I think everybody behind the arc just feels comfortable because they know make or miss, no one is going to be mad because if it’s an open shot, you shoot.”
Martinez, who has begun training for next season with her older and younger sister during quarantine, half-jokingly says now it’s all on Larissa to make Coastal Bend basketball a Martinez family affair.
“We tease her a lot,” she said. “We joke around with her and we always tell her stuff like about how we’re going to be living together and she’s going to be stuck here at home and how we’re going to be able to decorate our own dorm and just be with each other while she has to stay here at home. She kind of gets mad about it sometimes, but me and Briana sometimes gang up on her, too, because we’re going to be rooming together.”