SHS grad Martell shines on national stage

Montana State University senior Tori Martell of Somerset is flanked by her parents, Brenda and Bruce, at a surprise celebration for Martell at Bristol Ridge Golf Club two days after the Spartans’ all-time leading scorer won the Rocket Mortgage Women's 3-Point Championship in Indianapolis during the NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four weekend celebration. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia

SOMERSET, Wis.-- Tori Martell thought she’d be playing a round of golf when she showed up at Bristol Ridge Golf Course Saturday morning, April 3. But her friends and family had other ideas.

Two nights earlier Martell, a senior at Montana State University, had won the Rocket Mortgage Women's 3-Point Championship in Indianapolis. The event, televised live on ESPN2, was part of the 32nd annual State Farm College Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships at Hinkle Fieldhouse on the Butler University campus, and traditionally kicks off the NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four weekend.

Martell, Somerset High School’s all-time leading scorer, topped a field of eight of the top college sharpshooters in the country to win the women’s three-point title. She returned to Somerset Friday night and planned a quick round of golf Saturday before heading back to Bozeman Sunday to complete her final semester towards a nursing degree at Montana State.

But she never even got to the first tee.

“I had no idea,” she said after finding a throng of friends, family, former teammates and other well-wishers in the Bristol Ridge banquet room. “This is so amazing that they put this together today! It’s so sweet!”

Martell, a 2017 Somerset graduate, is the Spartans’ all-time leading scorer with 1,965 points and holds the career school record for three-pointers made with 240. A four-time All-Middle Border Conference selection, two-time MBC Player of the Year and two-time All-State pick, she averaged over 20 points per game over her four-year high school career and was named the Wisconsin Senior Shooter of the Year in 2017.

She recently completed her senior season at Montana State, where she led the Big Sky Conference in three-point field-goals per game, three-point field-goals made, three-point field-goals attempted, and three-point field-goal percentage. She averaged 13.3 points per game to earn a spot on the All-Big Sky Conference Second Team. Her 211 career three-pointers is the third best in Montana State history and helped earn her an invite to Indianapolis last week for the Rocket Mortgage Women's 3-Point Championship.

Martell got better and better with each round on her way to the title. After putting up 17 points in the first round, she advanced to the semifinals and tied Anna McLeod of Abilene Christian with 19 points before claiming victory in the finals with 22 points. Her 41.3 percent three-point shooting percentage this season was the third-best mark among the women’s participants at the event.

In the Battle of Champions against the winner of the men’s contest, Martell was perfect on the first and final racks, but came up one point short against Loren Cristian Jackson of Akron, 23-22.

“It was super fun,” Martell said about competing in the event. “Just getting invited was a great recognition already. I walked out of the airport and had someone holding a sign for me. I've never had that before so it was pretty special. And then just getting to be with all the other athletes, like big time athletes too. And to top it all off and win it was a great way to end my career.”

Martell’s high school coach at Somerset, Cory Lindenberg, knew she had a chance.

“She’s just had a great three-point shot all throughout high school and at Montana State,” he said. “I helped her get ready for the WIAA three-point championship back in the day and she was just one shot away from taking that one. I thought the biggest thing would be the nerves, but when she splashed her third shot and started settling down and put up 17 in the first round I knew she was gonna be alright.”

Martell admitted she was very nervous, at least at the start.

“I was surprised how nervous I actually got,” she said. “But then I got a little more calm as the rounds went on.”

Lindenberg said Martell’s knack for hitting the threes is a result of consistency and practice.

“Her and her dad would be in the gym every single day,” he said. “She would always be sticking around after practice, or her and a couple other kids, and she wouldn’t leave until she made 30 or 50 shots. It's just the work she puts into that got her to this point.”

Martell said her dad Bruce was her shooting coach growing up, and mom Brenda would do the rebounding. She said her and her dad would often warm up by playing a round of darts.

“Yeah, me and my dad would go play darts before every game but it was more just for fun,” she said. “But when you beat your dad every time you feel good going into the game.”

After all the hoopla of the past week Martell said she was looking forward to getting back to Bozeman and graduating with a nursing degree in May. As for her planned round of golf?

“I guess that’s not happening today,” she said. “But that’s okay, this is amazing.”

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