by Tom Pedulla –
Colby Martins never needed to look beyond his sister, Lexi, for a basketball role model. She was that good.
Lexi closed her Irvington career as the school’s all-time leading scorer (1,879) and rebounder (1,485) in powering her team to four state championships. She was a three-time Class B Player of the Year.
She went on to excel at Lehigh for three years as a 6-1 forward and then for one season at George Washington, where she was a graduate student. She is completing work on her Master’s degree in health administration at George Washington this year.
Colby, a junior at Irvington, is rapidly emerging as a premier point guard. He was scoring at a 20 points-per-game clip through the early stages of the season after averaging a hefty 14.8 points as a sophomore. He works to overcome his relative lack of size (5-9, 155 pounds) with a fiery competitiveness that helps his teammates elevate their games.
Colby credits Lexi’s powerful example for his success. “To see her lay down the footsteps before me was a great thing to see,” he said. “I went to all of her games, and it made me feel I wanted to be the star player for Irvington. She definitely inspired me to be who I am today.”
Colby made the varsity team as a freshman even though he was only 5-4, 125 pounds at that time. He has made a rapid ascent since then and showed how far he has come by pouring in 29 points – he nailed five of seven from three-point range – in a season-opening 55-54 victory against Ardsley.
“He’s got a really good basketball IQ,” said Scott Brennen, his coach. “He’s been around basketball his whole life.”
When Colby was not rebounding for Lexi during shooting drills, he was attending her games, riveted by the action and by her skills.
“He was incredibly selfless,” Lexi said. “He gave up a lot of his childhood to watch me play.”
Colby was always working to keep up with Lexi and Justin, his older brother by four years. It was never easy.
“Colby has been playing catch-up his entire life,” his sister said. “I think that’s part of the reason he plays with such grit and determination.”
Lexi continued, “He’s always been the youngest and the smallest in everything. A lot of people can use that as an excuse. For him, he’s taken that as a challenge.” Whether it was during drills or a pickup game, it was always a matter of keeping up with his big sister. Or at least trying to. “She definitely made it a competition for me,” Colby said, “always making me feel I needed to be as good as her.”
While maintaining a 3.7 grade-point average, Colby is doing everything possible to improve himself on the court. He gave up other sports to focus on basketball. He credits much of his progress to his involvement in the spring and summer with a local AAU team coached by Chris Ward. Sidney Thybulle, a junior center at Irvington, also is part of that AAU squad.
Weight lifting enabled Colby to add upper-body strength, enhancing his ability to withstand the intense defensive pressure he faces every game while making him more of a scoring threat inside. “He’s able to finish at the rim now and get contact and get to the foul line,” Brennen said.
Colby’s goal is to earn a college scholarship. He has already been contacted by some Division 3 coaches. Interest should only intensify as his game continues to soar. “I think he’s got his priorities in line that basketball can help him get a great education,” Brennen said.
Lexi blazed that path, too.