Prestons Lead Hackett to Perfect Starts

By Pam Shebest
Special for

January 19, 2016

KALAMAZOO — Dane Preston has had plenty of fun jamming the basketball through the hoop in practice, but never had the confidence to do it in a game.

That all changed earlier this season when the 6-foot-3 senior streaked down the court and brought the cheering crowd to its feet with a two-handed dunk in Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep’s game against Otsego in December.

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities before where I just didn’t feel comfortable doing it,” he said. “You want to make sure you score.

“I saw pictures from last year where I was so far above (the rim) and I was like, why didn’t I just try to dunk it? You’ve just got to get it in your mind to do it.”

Preston, who averages a team-high 19 points per game, is one reason why the Irish are off to a 6-0 start on the season. But he’s not the only hoops whiz in the family.

His sister, Sydney, 5-foot-9, averages a team-high 16 ppg on the girls team that, at 9-0, is off to its best start in years.

That makes for some rather interesting “can you top this” discussions at home.

“Every single game we played, we get home and she’s like, ‘I scored 18 points,’ and I’m like, ‘I had 20,’” Dane Preston said, laughing. “It’s just like a battle; it’s vicious.”

The pair have a hoop outside at home, and “he usually beats me, but I beat him in H-O-R-S-E a couple times,” his sister said. “Good competition. He doesn’t go easy on me.”

The two may be extremely competitive in basketball, but off the court they have a close relationship forged by a catastrophic event early in their lives.

Their father, Gary, died from a heart attack when Dane was 4 and Sydney 1½.

“I wore number 22 at the Courthouse (Athletic Center, for youth basketball), 14 in 7th and 8th grades, but when I got to high school I decided to wear number 4 because there’s a meaning behind it,” Preston said, referring to his age when he lost his father. “It’s always good to put a meaning behind something that means a lot to you.”

Although his sister was younger when they lost their father, she wears the same number.

“Dane picked 4 a long time ago, and I kinda wanted to be like him,” she said.

Runs in the family

The two come by their basketball prowess naturally.

Their mother, Amy Reisterer Preston, was on the seventh grade team at Kalamazoo St. Mary’s when she was in fifth grade. She played at Comstock High School and one year at Hope College before concentrating on track her four years there.

When her daughter was in third grade, Preston started coaching her team and has moved up the ranks with her.

After coaching the junior varsity girls last year, Amy is currently the assistant varsity coach, working with her uncle, head coach Nib Reisterer.

That’s not a problem for her daughter — usually.

“I like it for the most part,” Sydney said. “You can let go to my mom because she’s a woman, so it’s easier to talk to her (than a male coach). I think it’s fun to have her on the team. 

“My family’s always been some sort of my coach in basketball. Sometimes I don’t like it, but most of the time I do.”

Fridays make life a lot easier for the family.

That’s when both teams play at the same venue. Tuesdays they play at opposite sites.

“I get to have my game with Sydney, then relax and watch Dane,” their mother said of Fridays.

“The balancing act has been a little bit of a struggle for me,” Amy Preston added. “Dane’s a senior this year, so I don’t want to miss half his season, but yet I’m torn.

“I feel like my role with the girls is important, for all the girls, not just Sydney. If I’m not at the games, I feel like there’s a missing link there. I told Dane if there are any games he really needs or wants me to be at on a Tuesday night, I will be there. He just needs to let me know.”

Sizable advantages

At 6-3, Dane Preston isn’t close to being the tallest player on his Class C Southwestern Athletic Conference team.

Senior Riley Gallagher and junior Teddy Oosterbaan are both 6-7 and lead the team in dunks.

“Riley’s had three, and Teddy’s had three,” Dane said. “Teddy’s athletic and Riley’s just really tall. It’s easier for them.”

In addition, 6-1 senior starter Jack Dales is second in team scoring with 16 ppg.

“Me, Jack and Riley have been together since first grade,” Dane said. “We have some chemistry together. Our offense is really explosive.”

The offense exploded Friday in the fourth quarter in a matchup of unbeatens with Hackett eking out a hard-fought 54-48 win against crosstown rival Kalamazoo Christian.

Said Gallagher: “We have what every team needs: a person at every position that can help. 

“Teddy at the center. He’s one of the biggest kids in the league. Me at forward, (sophomore) Jacob (Niesen) or (sophomore) Casey (Gallagher) at three and Dane and Jack at point guard.”

Dales said everyone contributes and “Dane brings extreme scoring and hard work to the team.”

Mark Haase, who coached at Three Rivers, Otsego and Berrien Springs before taking over at Hackett this season, added: “In 17 years of coaching, this is probably the best chemistry I’ve ever had. They enjoy themselves, they enjoy each other. You can tell they’re having fun.

“They’re very unselfish and have very good chemistry and obviously some good players, too. I’ve coached at two Class B schools, and these four (Preston, Dales, Riley Gallagher, Oosterbaan) could play at any one of them.”

Haase said Preston is the serious one.

“Not in a bad way,” he quickly added. “Jack and Riley and Teddy are a little more loose. Dane has always wanted to be a good player, and he’s become a good player. Basketball means a lot to him.

“If there’s a big shot, he’s probably the guy who’s going to take it. He’s a good team player. He understands when to shoot and when not to shoot. A great scorer, a pretty good passer and he’s developed into a better defender.”

Andrew Marshall, A.J. Estes, Bryant Neal and Kieran O’Brien are the other seniors on the team.

Juniors are T.J. Krawczyk, Adam Wheaton, Donovan Kelly and Luke DeClercq.

One of Preston’s goals is to reach 1,000 career points. He has 716 so far.

Another is to end the season playing for an MHSAA title, something the Irish haven’t accomplished in 80 years.

Strength despite low numbers

Although there are just nine players on the girls varsity, “All the players we have are really good,” said captain Maura Gillig, the only senior on the team. “Our bench can come in and be really good.”

Two players top Sydney Preston’s 5-9 height. Junior Hope Baldwin is 5-11 and Gillig 5-10. Sophomore Savannah Madden measures 5-8.

“We have a really strong defensive team,” Preston said. “We have some key shooters. We have a good mix of girls.

“Savannah went to St. A’s (St. Augustine) and I went to St. Monica, so we played against each other (before high school). Last year we finally got to play with each other (on junior varsity). We really clicked, then she got moved up to varsity.”

Said Gillig: “Sydney brings a lot of intensity. She loves to play and brings a lot of energy onto the court.

“She’s always one of the players that if we ever need a steal or a play to bring us back in the game, she’s the one who will get it. She’s competitive, but she’s really encouraging to everyone.”

Juniors on the team are Emily Matthews, Cierra Barker, Naomi Keyte and Molly Panico. The other sophomore is Jessie Wenzel.

With just one senior this year, “I think we’ve got a really bright future here,” Reisterer said.

Amy Preston, who took a break from coaching to earn her master’s degree in exercise science, rejoined the coaching ranks when her daughter was in third grade. 

“Being the mom part, I know my daughter’s potential,” she said. “I tend to be a little tougher on her and have higher expectations because I know what her potential is. 

“That’s probably hard for her because she probably feels I’m picking on her more than the other girls. It’s kind of a fine line. It’s important for me not to show favoritism, too.”

Reisterer played basketball at Hackett, graduating in 1972, and coached Amy in seventh and eighth grades at St. Mary’s school.

Talking about his great niece, Reisterer said: “Sydney gives us a player who can finish at the backboard, and she can hit an outside shot. She can drive, she makes her free throws, so she’s got a well-rounded game.

“Her rebounding has improved dramatically and her defense is getting better. She’s discovering what she can do on the court. She’s like a sponge. She’s soaking it all in.”

Pam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She continues to freelance for covering mainly Kalamazoo Wings hockey and can be reached at with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Sydney Preston, left, fires a shot against Kalamazoo Christian, while brother Dane Preston gets a look against Otsego. (Head shots) Sydney Preston, Dane Preston, Amy Preston. (Middle) Dane Preston looks for an opening. (Below) Sydney Preston brings the ball upcourt. (Girls photos and head shots by Pam Shebest; boys photos by Scott Dales.)

Breslin Bound: 2022-23 Boys Quarterfinal Preview

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

March 21, 2023

It finally feels like spring, at least here in East Lansing. And tonight, 32 teams will attempt to build into their spring breaks a trip to Breslin Center.


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Below is a glance at all 16 of tonight’s Quarterfinals across four divisions, with all games tipping off at 7 p.m. unless noted. Winners advance to Thursday and Friday’s Semifinals, and we’ll detail the teams more then as we preview those concluding rounds of this year’s tournament.

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Division 1

Ann Arbor Huron (23-2) vs. Detroit Cass Tech (25-1) at University of Detroit Mercy, 5:30 p.m.

After an early postseason exit last season, 2021 Division 1 runner-up Huron has put together another deep playoff run. Sophomore guard Macari Moore leads three players averaging double-digit scoring at 17 points per game. After winning its first Regional title last season since 1998, Cass Tech is back at the Quarterfinals for a second straight March. Darius Acuff is another super sophomore, also leading three double-digit scorers at 21.6 ppg to go with 5.8 assists per contest.

Grand Blanc (24-2) vs. Rochester Adams (17-8) at Lake Orion

Last season’s runner-up is two wins away from playing for another title, but this time the Bobcats are led by first-year coach Tory Jackson. Seniors Tae Boyd (15.4 ppg) and RJ Taylor (14.3) are a strong 1-2 punch. Adams is coming off its first Regional title in this sport, with junior 6-foot-7 football standout Brady Prieskorn among top contributors for a Highlanders hoops team that has won seven of its last nine games.

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (14-10) vs. Warren De La Salle (17-8) at University of Detroit Mercy

These Detroit Catholic League Central rivals will meet for the third time, with St. Mary’s winning the first matchup by 17 on Jan. 10 and the reigning Division 1 champion Pilots taking the rematch by 12 on Jan. 31. Sophomore Trey McKenney is a force at 25.5 points and 11.1 rebounds per game for the Eaglets, while Phoenix Glassnor is another sophomore standout leading De La Salle at 18.4 ppg.

Muskegon (24-2) vs. East Lansing (16-9) at Caledonia

East Lansing has won six straight and 12 of its last 14 games, with three of those wins over opponents responsible for four of their losses this winter. Only one starter is a senior, and sophomore Cameron Hutson leads the way at 19.3 ppg. Muskegon is in the midst of a ninth 20-win season over the last decade and earned its first Regional title since 2015. Senior Jordan Briggs (18.7 ppg) has qualified for the MHSAA single-season record list with 84 3-pointers, connecting on nearly 40 percent of his tries from beyond the arc.

Division 2

Cadillac (22-4) vs. Saginaw (20-6) at Alma

The Trojans are seeking their first Semifinal appearance since 2013 and have lost only to Division 1 opponents this season, with guard Javarie Holliday leading a mostly senior-powered lineup at 15.8 ppg. Cadillac also won its Regional last season and is seeking to return to the Semifinals for the first time since 2015, with 6-6 junior Charlie Howell the leading scorer (15.3 ppg) and rebounder (7.4 rpg).

Ferndale (18-8) vs. Goodrich (22-4) at Lake Orion, 5:30 p.m.

The Eagles are working to reach Breslin and the Semifinals for a third-straight season and have won 13 of their last 14 games while navigating a power-packed schedule again this winter. Senior Chris Williams leads a balanced lineup at 13.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Goodrich is a combined 93-20 over the last five seasons and playing to make the Semifinals for the first time with senior Jack Locey (18.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.2 apg, 2.0 spg, 45 3-pointers) among those filling the stat sheet.

Hudsonville Unity Christian (18-9) vs. Grand Rapids South Christian (23-3) at Calvin University

These rivals will be filling Calvin for a rematch after South Christian won the regular-season meeting 58-50 on Dec. 16. The bad news for the Sailors is they lost leading scorer Carson Vis (17.7 ppg) to injury in the Regional Final, but senior Jacob DeHaan (13 ppg) leads three others averaging at least 8.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Unity has won 11 of its last 12 games, with two-point upsets of Grand Rapids Catholic Central and Grand Rapids Christian along the way. Juniors Trayton Fisher and Colin Neiuwenhuis both average about 11.5 points per game and have combined for 97 3-pointers.

Chelsea (21-5) vs. Romulus Summit Academy (24-2) at Milan

These are two more teams looking to reach the Semifinals for the first time, Summit having played in a Quarterfinal as recently as 2021 and Chelsea’s last trip to the season’s final week in 2000. Juniors Jacob Stephens (22.7 ppg) and Joseph Cabana (22.2) set a strong pace for the Bulldogs. The Dragons have doubled up all four of their postseason opponents so far and done the same in 16 wins total this winter.

Tri-unity Christian’s Roy Fogg pulls in a loose ball during his team’s Regional championship victory over Lansing Christian.

Division 3

Detroit Loyola (25-1) vs. Flint Beecher (21-4) at Waterford Mott

A 67-58 loss to Division 1 Flint Carman-Ainsworth on Jan. 29 remains the only defeat on Loyola’s list this winter. All five starters are seniors, with Dashawn Martin (15.1 ppg) leading three averaging double-figure scoring. Beecher’s losses were to Division 1 and 2 opponents, including three playing tonight. Robert Lee leads a senior-dominated lineup at 24.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game as the Bucs attempt to make the Semifinals for a third-straight season.

Laingsburg (25-0) vs. Ecorse (19-4) at Ypsilanti Lincoln

The Wolfpack’s closest game this season was seven points, its Regional Semifinal win against Jonesville, as it attempts to reach Breslin for the first time since 2013. Junior Zander Woodruff is averaging more than a point per minute of playing time, leading at 24.4 ppg. Ecorse is seeking a return trip to the Semifinals and has won 17 of its last 18 games. Senior guard Malik Olafioye also is putting the finishing touches on a high-scoring career.

St. Ignace (22-4) vs. Traverse City St. Francis (22-4) at Gaylord

St. Ignace is playing in its first Quarterfinal since 2001, seeking to reach the Semifinals for the first time since 1983. Junior Jonny Ingalls (22.4 ppg) leads three Saints averaging at least 13, plus he’s dishing 5.4 assists per game. St. Francis has won 11 of its last 12 games with that lone loss to Cadillac (see above) in overtime in the regular-season finale. Senior Wyatt Nausadis has paced the scoring at 20.1 ppg after quarterbacking the football team to a Division 7 runner-up finish in the fall.

Pewamo-Westphalia (19-6) vs. Niles Brandywine (24-2) at Portage Central

Brandywine has reached the final week for the first time with its first Regional title, and its only losses this season remain against Division 2 Benton Harbor. Junior Jaremiah Palmer leads a lineup with four players averaging at least 9.7 ppg at 12.9 per game. P-W is making its second-straight Quarterfinal appearance after edging North Muskegon by three and then Grandville Calvin Christian by two last week. Senior Jamison Eklund is averaging 22.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

Division 4

Painesdale Jeffers (25-1) vs. Munising (24-1) at Negaunee

The Upper Peninsula is guaranteed to send a one-loss team downstate to the Division 4 Semifinals, and for both programs it would be a first-time trip. Jeffers is playing its first Quarterfinal, and Munising its first since 1954. Junior Levi Frahm leads four Jets scoring in double digits at 20.5 ppg, while senior Kane Nebel is surrounded by a similar balanced attack and leads four double-digit scorers at 15.8 ppg.

Taylor Trillium Academy (21-3) vs. Marine City Cardinal Mooney (15-11) at West Bloomfield

Trillium is another first-time Regional champion, taking this step after falling just a four-point loss shy of reaching the Quarterfinals a year ago. Senior DaMaryon Fishburn is averaging 22.7 points, 9.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game for the Wildcats, and junior Keymarryon Fishburn adds 15.3 ppg. Cardinal Mooney has won seven of its last nine games to reach the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2016 and after falling in Regional Finals the last two seasons – avenging the 2022 loss to Genesee Christian to advance. Senior Trent Rice leads three double-digit scorers at 12.9 ppg.

Frankfort (17-8) vs. Hillman (22-4) at Gaylord, 5 p.m.

Frankfort is another team on a nice streak with eight wins over its last nine games including 50-44 over 2022 semifinalist Lake Leelanau St. Mary in last week’s Regional Final. Senior Emmerson Farmer and sophomore Carter Kerby supply the backcourt with between 10-11 ppg apiece. This will be Hillman’s fourth Quarterfinal over the last nine seasons as the Tigers seek their first Semifinal trip. Trenton Taratuta is a big-time scorer averaging 27.4 ppg with 60 3-pointers but also 9.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 5.2 steals per game.

Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (20-6) vs. Kalamazoo Phoenix (17-2) at Richland Gull Lake

This is a familiar spot for Tri-unity Christian, the reigning Division 4 champion. All five starters average between 6-13 ppg and four have high games of at least 20 points this season; senior Roy Fogg tops both lists at 13 ppg and 25, respectively. This is new territory for Phoenix, which won one game just two seasons ago but has won 10 in a row heading into this week. Senior Cameron Lewis-Atkins (19.9 ppg) leads five players averaging 11 or more points per game. Phoenix avenged one of its losses, to Eau Claire, in the Regional Semifinal.'s weekly “Breslin Bound” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

PHOTOS (Top) A fan holds up a sign supporting Painesdale Jeffers between the third and fourth quarters of last week’s Regional Final win over Stephenson. (Middle) Tri-unity Christian’s Roy Fogg pulls in a loose ball during his team’s Regional championship victory over Lansing Christian. (Top photo by Cara Kamps; middle photo by High School Sports Scene.)