Preston's girls team may just be the best kept secret on the local junior high girls basketball scene this year.
Under the direction of veteran Coach Jenna Morgan, the Lady Pirates have dominated nearly every game they've played during the 2012-13 season.
On Tuesday afternoon in Lakewood, Preston raced out to a big early advantage against a scrappy Western Wayne squad.
The Lady Pirates led by 16-5 after one, then upped that margin to 24-9 at intermission. From there, Coach Morgan's girls coasted to an impressive 42-16 victory.
"These girls have been playing together since the fourth grade, so they know each other really well," she said. "I've been hearing about them for a couple of years and now that I'm finally coaching them I'm having a blast."
This latest win pushed Preston's overall record to a dazzling 13-1 on the year.
The Lady Pirates' lone loss came to archrival Honesdale by three points.
"That was a really tough game," Coach Morgan said, a gleam in her eye. "I wish we had another shot at them because I think it might be a different story now."
Preston will close out its schedule next week with an appearance the Damascus Invitational Tournament.
That annual junior high event is slated to take place Monday and Wednesday at the Damascus School.
This year's edition of the Preston junior high girls basketball team is one for the books.
The Lady Pirates are athletic, hard-working and the roster is deep.
Coach Morgan's girls like to push the ball, play aggressive defense and dictate tempo. However, they're also intelligent and versatile enough to adapt to their opponents.
Page 2 of 3 - Alexis Houghton is the team's on-court leader.
An 8th grade post player who's a nightmare match-up problem for enemy coaches, Houghton can score in the paint, run the floor in transition and even step out to hit an occasional jumper.
"She is an unbelievable post player," said Coach Morgan. "Alexis sees a ton of junk defenses, like box and ones, but most of the time it doesn't even slow her down. She's definitely a player to watch."
Preston's southpaw center is averaging a double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds per game.
Hannah Marin and Riley Barton form a potent 1-2 punch in the backcourt. Both are 8th graders and each brings an unique skill set to the table.
"They're great girls and so much fun to work with," said Coach Morgan. "Riley especially is really versatile because she can play any position on the floor."
Preston surrendered an early basket to Western Wayne on Tuesday, then went on an absolute scoring rampage.
The Lady Pirates ran off eight straight points, forcing the 'Cats to burn a timeout. This ploy didn't work as the home team continued its barrage and closed out the quarter by 13.
Barton was the ringleader during this uprising. Riley scored eight of her game-high 12 points in the period.
Preston sealed the deal on this one with a 12-5 third quarter run. From there, Coach Morgan substituted liberally en route to a solid 42-16 win.
Houghton balanced her teammates' perimeter and fastbreak buckets with an intimidating presence in the post. Alexis closed out her game with six points and 11 rebounds.
Page 3 of 3 - Emily Zukosky also tallied six points, while Trinity Gotthardt chipped in with four.
Rounding out the scoring for the Lady Pirates were: Jasmyn Mead (two), Marin (two), Malorie Rutledge (two), Brittany Butler (two).
Coach Morgan was quick to point out that all 13 of her girls play key roles in Preston's success. Jenna pointed to a pre-holiday win over Susquehanna as the perfect example of this camaraderie.
"We've really created a reputation for ourselves," she said. "At this level and in this area, I think we're the team to beat ... and it's all because of how hard these girls work and how well they play together."
Score by Quarters...
PRE (13-1) 16 8 12 6 - 42
WW (11-3) 5 4 5 2 - 16