Motocross might be Brian Marty’s favorite sport. But maybe basketball is.
It’s tough to tip the scale one way or the other because, as different as the two sports are, Marty excels at both.
He tears up the basketball court as Tumwater High School’s leading scorer, and rips up dirt as an intermediate amateur rider — the classification one rung below professional — who has raced at a national level.
“Basketball and motocross definitely compete,” Marty said.
So, what is it that sparks his interest most about these two particular sports?
“The adrenaline rush,” he said. “I don’t get nervous or scared, but it’s so much fun to go 50 miles per hour on a dirt bike.”
Basketball is the same way. Marty is fast on the court, too, teammate Cade Otton said.
“You see him going fast all the time on the court, and changing speeds as well, which is similar between the two (sports), and Brian does really well at both of them,” Otton said.
Less than a month ago, Marty tore down the sideline at Capital, as the clock ticked down, and tossed up a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to lift the T-Birds to a 61-60 win and end the Cougars’ undefeated streak.
He’s averaging 21 points per game for Tumwater and scored a career-high 33 points against Centralia last week.
“Brian is obviously really aggressive and a great scorer,” Otton said. “I think he just has that mentality that he can take over and score at will, and I think that’s been a big help.”
Right now, it’s basketball season.
Marty will pick up motocross again this spring, but it’s clear the two sports have overlap, Tumwater coach Thomas Rowswell said.
“All fall, he got shots up, he got up early,” Rowswell said. “I think that work ethic comes from his experience with motocross. … He knows what it takes to train at a high level and get the reps. It just carries over to basketball.”
Last season, Marty was Tumwater’s sixth man. As a sophomore, he was a swing player between JV and varsity, and he saw limited minutes.
His role in earlier years was to pass first, play defense and support Tumwater’s older group of scorers.
Rowswell said Marty has been playing under the radar since his sophomore season.
“We knew he was talented, and we knew he could be a big part of our program,” Rowswell said. “It’s a testament to him. … He stayed patient, he kept working. He didn’t worry about starting or not starting, scoring or not scoring.
“He’s waited until his senior year and really blossomed and rolled with it.”
Marty said — after the T-Birds graduated a heavy senior class last season following a fifth-place finish at the Class 2A state tournament — he had an idea his role would expand.
He was riding motocross in Spokane in May, when he hit a jump awkwardly and fell over the bars. He landed on his shoulder, breaking his collarbone and scapula, and decided to forego his senior season of football.
When he healed, he went to the gym and put up thousands of shots to get ready for basketball.
“I just prepared,” Marty said. “I didn’t really work on my shot a lot last year during the season, because I really wasn’t a shooter.
“During the summer, when I healed from my injury, I just went into the gym and got shots up all the time, and I was always working out too, to get my speed up.”
Between Marty, Otton and CJ Geathers, all of whom played significant minutes last season, Rowswell knew he had some pieces returning.
But did he expect Marty to be this productive midway through the season? He’s exceeded expectations, Rowswell admitted.
“As a coach, you look at this kid, he’s pretty good,” Rowswell said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to be pretty talented the past couple of years.
“He’s just learned our system and worked hard and learned from the seniors above him, and it’s been his turn.”
Marty has paced Tumwater to an 8-4 (2-0 2A Evergreen Conference) record so far this season.
The T-Birds are on a four-game winning streak entering Friday’s rivalry game against Black Hills.
He said he’s considered playing basketball at the college level but is currently keeping options open and could potentially pursue a professional motocross career.
“I think he’ll know what to do,” Otton said. “I know he’ll be successful in whatever he pursues, and a hard worker.”
Rowswell said he thinks Marty’s success in multiple sports relieves pressure and gives him an advantage on the basketball court.
“When you put all of your eggs in one basket, and it doesn’t work out, or it’s not going the way you want it to, that can be difficult,” Rowswell said. “To watch Brian excel in multiple things — and we have a lot of kids who do that — it’s really refreshing.”
Rowswell said Marty doesn’t pay much attention to the points he collects, as long as the team is successful.
He scored 12 points against River Ridge in December, a season low, but the T-Birds won the game by 16, which was more important to Marty.
Perhaps his relaxed attitude has contributed to the strong team chemistry he said the T-Birds have this season.
“During practice, we’re just having fun,” Marty said. “That makes everything so much better.”