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Mike Sciacca They say that practice makes...

Mike Sciacca

They say that practice makes perfect, and if so then Cheyne Martin

could well be on his way to attaining such elusive status.

On this summer day in Laguna Beach, you won’t find Martin at the


beach; rather, he can be found at a local park, basketball in hand,

going through his daily routine of practicing a sport he has played

in some organized form or another, since the age of 6.

“We increased practices to twice a day, starting this week,” said


Martin, who recently turned 13. “I enjoy it, and by practicing, it

can only make you better.”

The “we” Martin is referring to also includes his stepfather, John

Bowser, who takes Cheyne (pronounced “Shane”) through the youngster’s

daily shoot around.

“I remember when he was 4 or 5, we’d drive past the courts at Main

Street and Cheyne would say he wanted to me to take him there,”

Bowser recalled. “That was about eight years ago and now Cheyne is


playing on a basketball court at one place or another.”

Cheyne Martin recently returned to Laguna Beach from Grapevine,

Texas, a town situated between Dallas and Forth Worth, where he

helped lead the Orange County Piranhas of the Amateur Athletic Union

to an eighth-place finish in the 13-year-old Division at the

Basketball Congress International’s national tournament.

The BCI tournament, a national qualifying tournament, is open to

teams that have won sanctioned tournaments around the country.


The Piranhas won both the Santa Barbara and Reno regional

tournaments to qualify for the three-day national event held in July.

Martin, a 5-foot-8 shooting guard, averaged 14 points, six

assists, four rebounds and four steals per game in the national

tournament. Along the way, he helped lead the Piranhas to victories

against the Texas Red, Kansas City Slam and the Indiana Bulls.

Following a loss to the New York Lightning, the Piranhas lost the

battle for seventh place to the Arkansas Hawks.

Thirty-six teams entered the national tournament.

The Orange County Piranhas are comprised of youngsters from

throughout the county.

Martin, a seventh-grader during this past season, played up a

division with the Piranhas’ eighth-grade team and was the youngster

player on the roster.

Playing among older players is nothing new to the Thurston Middle

School student, who has played in the city of Laguna Beach Junior

Basketball League since he was in sixth grade.

Martin was a driving force during the recently completed 2002

season in leading the Clippers to a co-regular season championship

and postseason tournament title.

He averaged just over 34 points per game during the summer

recreation league and the league named him both the regular season

and tournament MVP.

“He was an easy pick,” said Ron Lutz, recreation supervisor for

the city. “Cheyne has a great sense of the court and runs the floor

extremely well. He averaged nearly 32 points overall during the

course of the season, but you really didn’t notice his scoring

because he really is a team player. If he continues to work at it, I

think he has a very bright future in basketball.”

His daily practice sessions include taking 300 shots, he says, 50

of which come from about 15-feet out, 50 more from 18-to-20 foot

range and 50 attempts from the three-point arc.

What’s unusual about Martin is that he is left-handed.

“I’m still working on my jump shot, trying to improve it,” he

said. “I also have begun to work using my right hand, like doing

layups, jump shots and free throws. Every once in a while, I even

take right-handed three-point shots.”

Martin’s weeklong practice schedule leads him to busy weekends,

which have him trying out for various AAU teams.

Several county AAU coaches have contacted him to play for their

team, he said.

“I liked playing in the city league and I really like playing in

AAU,” he said. “The AAU program gives me the chance to play against

the best kids in the nation.”

The 2003 season will be Martin’s final year playing AAU, after

that he will play basketball at Laguna Beach High, he says.