Preston makes Lake Clifton lacrosse go

April 21, 1995|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,Contributing Writer

In any discussion of Lake Clifton and big scorers, Shawnta Rogers, the Baltimore Sun's Boys Basketball Player of the Year, would be the first person mentioned.

But Paul Preston also would come to mind. His name may not be as recognizable as Rogers, but he is as talented on the lacrosse field as Rogers is on the basketball court.

Preston, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound senior attackman, is the premier performer for the Lakers (6-1), considered Baltimore City's top public school team this season.

As a junior, Preston scored 72 goals and had 12 assists in 13 games.

With 25 goals and four assists in the first six games this season, he will be hard-pressed to match his 1994 totals. But duplicating last year's performance is of less importance to Preston than avoiding a repeat of last season when Lake Clifton was upset by Edmondson in the state Class 4A North regional semifinals.

"He wants every kid in a position to score," said Lake Clifton coach John Baker. "He's the team leader. He'd rather score 50 goals and win a championship than score 72 goals and not win a championship."

Preston's scoring ability has attracted double- and triple-teams all season, which has opened up many scoring opportunities for such teammates as Nate Moyd (11 goals, 14 assists) and Anthony Jefferson (five goals, four assists).

"I really don't care about the numbers," said Preston. "The numbers have made others impressed, but not me."

Standing only 5-2 his freshman year, Preston nevertheless became a starter and had a heavy impact, leading the Lakers with 35 goals and eight assists. He scored the winning goal in a 5-4, five-overtime victory over Patterson, which is believed to be the longest game in the history of the former Maryland Scholastic Association.

In his sophomore year, Preston tallied 32 goals and 11 assists. In last season's 72-goal performance, he had 29 of them in one week.

Preston is always confident he can score, no matter the opponent.

"He never says die," said Baker, who is in his ninth season. "He goes after every loose ball, and you've got to do whatever to stop him. He looks to get everybody involved. But in crunch time, he wants the ball."

Baker, who is also the assistant coach for the varsity basketball team, said there are many similarities between Preston and Rogers, the school's all-time leading basketball scorer. Basketball is the most popular sport at Lake Clifton, but lacrosse, not football, is second in recognition.

"It's an up-and-coming sport," Preston said. "It's really bigger than football here, even though football players played. I think they are fascinated by the sticks."

This past winter, Preston played with a team that included Brian Zeller (Loyola High) and Karl Zeller (University of Virginia) that won the Cockeysville indoor league title. Preston used the opportunity to improve his passing skills and his scooping of the ball.

Preston, who has been contacted by Villa Julie, used to think that football would be his path to a college scholarship. He was a running back for the Lakers the past two seasons.

He sometimes laughs when he talks about the game that he had no interest in playing as a youngster.

"I never dreamed of it; maybe in football, not lacrosse," he said. "Going to college is all I think about. I didn't know that lacrosse would take me this far."

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