Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Call Her Full-Court Press

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Call Her Full-Court Press

Article excerpt

DEMAREST -- Mackenzie Press came into this season as a mystery to NV/Demarest's new head coach Jen Jurjevic.

Press, a junior guard, played a little as a freshman for the Norsewomen, but a torn ACL cost her all of her sophomore year. Her teammates probably talked Press up to Jurjevic, who was a college assistant last season, but in a battle for playing time, seeing is always believing.

"She saw film on all of the team from last season, and I'm not on any of it," said Press, whose ninth-seeded Norsewomen face No. 1 Immaculate Conception in today's Bergen County girls basketball quarterfinal at Fair Lawn High School. "I was thinking, 'She doesn't know me.'

"I felt like I had something to prove."

Press' proof has been the stuff headlines are made of. She scored a career-high 20 points to lead NV/Demarest (11-5) to a hard-fought 46-43 win over Rutherford in the county opener.

But that was just a warm-up for Sunday. Press scored eight points, including a jumper at the buzzer, that gave the Norsewomen a stunning 69-68 victory over previously unbeaten Queen of Peace in the round of 16.

"When I took this job, she wasn't even cleared to play yet," Jurjevic said. "I didn't see her until the fall, and you could still see a little hesitation. Every day she gets better and better."

But this is more than just a story of a player getting hot at the right time and hitting a few big shots on the big stage. Press, who wears a brace on a right knee, has earned high points for toughness and determination as she worked her way toward her county heroics.

In her first game back playing AAU last September, Press dislocated her shoulder. She was, however, back on the court by the weekend, feeding off the lessons she learned during the grueling 10- month rehab of her knee.

"Mentally and physically, I came back stronger," Press said. "Now I feel like I can go through anything. …

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