New York High School: Preston

Preston girls win CHSAA Class B City title

March, 10, 2012
When Preston lost junior Megan Triano, the team's leading rebounder and second leading scorer at the time, to a torn ACL in February, head coach John Martin said there was serious concerns about how well the team would finish the season.

Those concerns almost seem silly now as Preston not only won the Archdiocesan B division title, but also took the CHSAA Class B City championship with a 38-29 victory over Fontbonne Hall at Sacred Heart in Yonkers on Friday.

Now Martin is brimming with confidence as his team gets set to face Cardinal O'Hara (Buffalo) for the state championship at Christ the King on Saturday.

"I'm very confident in my team's abilities right now," Martin said. "My players are playing with a lot of confidence and we're definitely strong enough to pull this out."

Martin credited a strong scouting report as a big contributor in the playoffs so far, but even though Preston is up against more of an unknown opponent on Saturday, he thinks they will still be able to come away with a state title.

"Tomorrow is a bit different," Martin admitted. "We have enough weapons offensively and we've been playing very well defensively that we will be able to make it work. We're a very deep team that is capable of playing a variety of styles. I think that will help us a lot because we will be able to adapt to whatever they throw at us."

It was a close game, but Preston led at the end of each quarter. Jasmina Dzurlic led with 13 points. Victoria Sorrell had seven, and Victoria McCaffrey and Melissa Cwikla each had six points for Preston. Cindy Henderson led Fontbonne with 13 points and Kate Oliver contributed with six.

CHSAA title games previews

March, 9, 2012
There are plenty of title games this weekend in New York City. Here are some brief previews of some of the title games.

Girls CHSAA Class B City final: Preston vs. Fontbonne Hall (Friday, 5 p.m.): The winners of the Archdiocesan and Brooklyn/Queens Division II tournaments will meet on Friday night to determine who faces Cardinal O'Hara for the State title Saturday afternoon. Fontbonne Hall has bested St. Vincent Ferrer and St. John's Prep on its way to the title game while Preston has defeated St. Edmund Prep and Bishop Kearney on its way.

Boys CHSAA Class B State final: Nazareth vs. St. Mary's (Saturday, 2 p.m.): Nazareth will look to win the State title at Fordham against their opponent from Lancaster. Nazareth has been the best B team in New York City's CHSAA and will look to send its school out with a title, as the Brooklyn school is scheduled to close at the end of the year. Nazareth is led by sophomore forward Samson Usilo and has a high-powered offense.

Boys CHSAA Class A State final: Iona Prep vs. St. John the Baptist (Saturday, 3:45 p.m.): Iona Prep will take on an unlikely foe for the Class A State title. St. John the Baptist was the last seed in its bracket but emerged victorious to meet Iona for the title. Iona has been a complete team that lost just three games this season while piling up wins. The Gaels have to be considered the favorites in this contest. Iona is led by sophomore Isiah Ice.

Girls CHSAA Class B State final: Preston vs. Cardinal O'Hara (Saturday, 3 p.m.): Preston will represent New York City in this game against Cardinal O'Hara of Buffalo. Preston won its spot into this game by winning the City title on Friday night with a win against Fontbonne Hall. The Panthers also bested St. Edmund Prep and Bishop Kearney on their way to the title. Victoria McCaffery is a key player for Preston.

Girls CHSAA Class A State final: Bishop Loughlin vs. Mary Louis (Saturday, 5 p.m.): A rematch of the City title game will take place for the State title. Bishop Loughlin and Mary Louis battled each for the City title Wednesday, with the Lady Lions winning 66-62 in overtime. The teams have played three times this year and Loughlin leads the series 2-1. Mary Louis is led by Jasmine Nwaji while Imani Tate guides Loughlin.
When John Martin played his current crop of juniors when they were freshman, the Preston girls basketball coach was building toward this year. He hoped that by the time they were juniors and seniors, his team would be able to make a run.

Wednesday, the coach's hope became a reality. Preston won the Archdiocesan Class B title with a 52-32 win over Aquinas in the title game. Preston, 22-5 on the year, now advances to the City playoffs where it will face the No.4 team from Brooklyn/Queens.

"I knew that we had a team that could do it," Martin said. "It wasn't easy. As we went through the season, some games didn't go the way we thought and we hit some hurdles. We lost our top rebounder and second leading scorer in Megan Triano, which could have been a devastating blow. I knew we would be in the mix and I knew we had a chance."

Two years ago, Martin said his team had eight wins and then pushed it up to .500 last year. This season, Preston finally made its run. He credited his juniors, including Tori McCaffrey, Jessica Signore, Victoria Sorrell, Jasmina Dzurlic, Amber Tudor and Triano. McCaffey led her team with 14 points in the final.

"We play a lot smarter now and we have a lot more weapons for when we run the things we've been running for three years," Martin said. "We have a variety of offense that we can create. It's been skill development and also building knowledge and concepts of the game. We know each other's strengths."

Against Aquinas, top-seeded Preston got out to an early lead and was able to stay in comfortable control for most of the way. Martin credited the scouting reports with helping his team gain the edge. That title win gave Preston and Martin its first title since winning the Class C crown back in 2007.

"Our first goal was to win the Archdiocsan title," Martin said. "Now that we've done that, our desire is to win the City title. It means a lot as a coach, the kids put a lot of time and effort in and it's nice to see all the hard work pay off. We're confident going in, we feel we have a good team and a strong team and we feel we can make a run. We have to play well and play our game and we should be in the mix."