Few players in the area were able to attack the rim like Martin this season, as he used his tenacity to average more than 22 points a game. Photos by Gary Nieter
Few players in the area were able to attack the rim like Martin this season, as he used his tenacity to average more than 22 points a game. Photos by Gary Nieter
After his team’s season-ending loss to Bethany Christian in the Hamilton High School sectional final, Lakeland Christian head basketball coach Taylor Long mentioned that a betting man probably wouldn’t place a wager on the Cougars winning 19 games this past season, the team’s most since joining the IHSAA.

His star player, senior Seth Martin, echoed the sentiment this past week.

“We had a lot of new guys coming in this season, a new coach. I wouldn’t have guessed we would have won as many games as we did but we had a lot of guys buy in and make it possible,” Martin said.

No one player across the area bought in and did as much for his team as Martin did this season, making him the choice for this year’s Times-Union Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

“You’d be hard pressed to find another kid that’s had a season like him,” Long said. “His numbers were great on offense and defense but his desire to win and his desire to bring his teammates with him is what fueled that. He was a great example for all of us.”

When asked about the legacy he had created for himself at Lakeland Christian, Martin’s humbleness was on full display.

“It’s cool, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and coaches. It’s not like anything I did was that special,” Martin said. “Winning the sectional would have been nice but I’m more than happy with the memories and friends that I’ve made that will last a lifetime.”

He won’t be the first to tell you about it, but along with the team success, Martin enjoyed a fair share of individual recognition this season as well, scoring his 1,000thpoint on Dec. 9 against Bluffton and spending a majority of the year with a top-ten scoring average in the state. He’d finish his senior year with 1,470 points, the second most in LCA history. He averaged 22.5 points per game (PPG), 7.5 rebounds, two assists and 2.2 steals. Seth credited his offensive ascension with a mid range jumper he developed this past offseason.

“Getting that going and being able to score at all three levels was huge for me, I wanted to be able to keep the defense honest and make sure I wasn’t getting too predictable out there,” Martin said. “I’ll always be a drive-first guy but I knew that if that was the only thing I did, it was going to be a lot easier to stop me.”

The addition of the jumper was incredibly useful to Martin. Though he did do most of his damage in the paint this season, the ability to step outside and hit a shot more consistently saved the guard from taking even more punishment in the restricted area than he could handle.

“My dad had to buy me padded compression shorts halfway through the season because I was so tired of falling down,” Martin said, barely containing a laugh. “After a while of getting knocked down it started taking a little longer to get back up but I just love basketball so much that I wasn’t going to let anything keep me off of the court.”

Along with the stellar statistics and the program-record 19 wins, Martin was also a key factor in the Cougars capturing their first ever Hoosier Plains Conference co-championship, sharing the honors with Bethany Christian. The Cougars and Bruins met three times this past season, with Bethany Christian winning two out of three, the final win coming in the sectional title game. Coach Long noted the first game against Bethany as when he noticed something special might be brewing.

“Before the season, I thought we had the pieces to be a very competitive group, and a lot of people looked at me like I was crazy,” Long said. “That first game against Bethany was really when we started to believe. We knew how good Bethany was and the fact that we thought we should have won that game validated everything we felt coming into this year.”

Long showed some emotion when discussing what coaching a player like Martin has meant to him in his first year on the job.

“There are some coaches that never get the opportunity to coach a kid like Seth, and I’ve been blessed enough to be able to do that in my first year,” Long said. “That’s something I’ll never stop appreciating and has only made me more excited for the future of this program and what it can become. He’s raised the bar of what we can achieve and the impact he has had on the young guys shows them the work required and gives them the motivation to get it done.”

Martin has not yet committed to play basketball at the next level and credits his parents as being his biggest influences and supporters. A huge Kentucky fan, Martin traveled to Greensboro, North Carolina, Friday night to watch his Wildcats take on Providence. His favorite memory from this season, along with the constant winning, was reaching 1,000 points.

“I had a lot of family in town, and it just worked out so perfectly,” Martin said. “When I made the shot to reach 1,000, I kind of fell back into the stands. I landed right on top of my brother and he gave me a huge hug. Stuff like that is what the game is all about to me.”


Times-Union All-Area Boys Basketball Teams


POTY F Seth Martin (LCA Sr.)

Humble, hungry and the catalyst for the best season in Lakeland Christian history, Martin was a worthy choice for this year’s player of the year award. His stellar senior season was one that the Cougar faithful won’t forget any time soon.

G Tayde Kiser (Tipp. Valley Sr.)

A lethal scorer and one of the best on-ball defenders in the area, Kiser did a little bit of everything for Tippecanoe Valley this season. Averaging 14.9 PPG, 3.8 assists and 2.2 steals, The senior guard was a Swiss-Army knife for his team. The highlight of his season came against Wabash, when he willed his team to a win with 38 points.

G Cole Shively (Triton Jr.)

Like Martin, Shively was a player that did it all on the offensive end for Triton this season, averaging over 25 PPG during the final month of the season. The junior, who also spends time as the Trojan’s starting quarterback, is an electric player to watch, using a variety of moves to get into the lane and finding plenty of ways to finish at the cup. Shively will definitely be a player to watch next season as he chases his first sectional title as a senior.

F Nolan Cumberland (Tipp Valley Sr.)

Though the season didn’t end the way the Vikings wanted, Cumberland had an outstanding senior year, leading an 18-win, Three Rivers Conference champion Valley in scoring with 17.8 PPG while shooting nearly 50% from the field (48%) and grabbing five rebounds a night. Like a few other players on this list, Cumberland reached the 1,000-point milestone earlier this year.

F Gavin Betten (Manchester So.)

After a tremendous year as a freshman a year ago, Betten improved in every conceivable way this season, averaging a double-double with 21.4 points and 11.6 rebounds a game. Betten also made improvements on the defensive end, blocking 3.1 shots a game and snatching up 1.5 steals a contest. Only a sophomore on a young and ascending team, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to predict Betten as a future winner of the POTY award.


G Jaxson Gould (Warsaw Sr.)

The most difficult omission from the first team honors, last year’s Player of the Year suffered a torn labrum in a preseason scrimmage and missed just one game. Gould led the Tigers in scoring eight different times this season and became the 13thplayer in school history to reach 1,000 points. Had he been fully healthy this season, there is little doubt Jaxson would have not only contended for the first team but also made a claim at winning the POTY for the second year in a row. We at the Times-Union wish Jaxson all the best in his recovery from his injury as he prepares for the next step in his career at Indiana Wesleyan University.  

G Kyler Krull (Whitko Jr.)

Though it wasn’t the most successful year for the Whitko team, Krull shined in his junior season, averaging 18.9 PPG, 6.7 rebounds per game (RPG) and 0.7 blocks a game, all team-highs. An offensive weapon that can use his size to hurt you from anywhere, fans can only expect Krull to get better as he prepares for his senior season.

G Ethan Hendrix (Manchester So.)

Hendrix was a perfect complement to Betten in Manchester’s backcourt this season, finishing second on the team in PPG with 13 a night, providing efficient outside shooting while leading the team in assists with 4.3 a game and finishing second on the squad with two steals a contest. Fresh off of 18 wins this season, the Squires are going to be a problem next year.

F Drew Heckaman (Warsaw Sr.)

Drew might have missed a few games during the middle of the season, but when Heckaman did play, he was a force to be reckoned with. Finishing second on Warsaw in scoring only behind Gould, Heckaman made his mark on the team during some big games down the stretch, setting a new career-high with 25 points against Mishawaka in February before scoring another 25 against Marion that same week. Heckaman averaged 18 PPG over the last five games of the season and sent the Tiger Den into multiple frenzies with some rim-rattling dunks.

F Maddux Everingham (Wawasee So.)

Everingham had a great year for the Warriors, leading the team in scoring (13.8 PPG) while also shooting a blistering 40% from three-point range and 83% from the free throw line. Everingham led the team in total steals with 27.