Nutley HS girls’ basketball team crushes Columbia to advance to Essex County Tournament quarterfinals

NUTLEY – Senior All-American guard Blair Watson had 19 points, 15 rebounds, 10 blocks, five assists and three steals to power the fifth-seeded Nutley High School girls’ varsity basketball team to a 53-15 win over 12th-seeded Columbia in the first round of the Essex County Tournament on Feb. 13 at NHS.

Freshman guard Rebecca Granata had 13 points; freshman guard Courtney Wilde had 12 points; sophomore forward Sydney Kunz had fivepoints; freshman forward Mackenzie Moraski added two points; and junior guard Jen Callaghan and Nicole Sullivan each had one point.

The Raiders, who improved to a 13-6 record, will visit fourth-seeded Newark Shabazz in the quarterfinals on Feb. 20. The winner will face the winner between top-seeded East Orange Campus and eighth-seeded West Orange in the semifinals doubleheader at Weequahic HS on Feb. 24 in Newark.

NHS, under head coach Larry Mitschow, also will look to defend its state North Jersey Section 2, Group 3 tournament championship. The Raiders received the No. 11 seed and will visit No. 6 Cranford in the first round on Feb. 29.

The Raiders nearly pulled off a stunner in a 47-37 loss at powerhouse East Orange Campus on Feb. 11. NHS led 33-30 going into the fourth quarter, but East Orange Campus outscored the Raiders, 17-4, in the fourth to improve to 14-2. Watson had 13 points with 17 rebounds and six blocks and Wilde had 11 points.

Essex County Tournament

First round

1-East Orange Campus defeated 16-Caldwell, 75-47

8-West Orange defeated 9-Bloomfield, 49-46, double overtime

5-Nutley defeated 12-Columbia, 53-15

4-Newark Shabazz defeated 13-Orange, 54-44

2-Newark Academy defeated 15-Mount Saint Dominic, 42-24

7-Newark Tech defeated 10-Bloomfield Tech, 74-57

11-Millburn defeated 6-Montclair, 61-52

3-University defeated 14-Barringer, 76-52

Quarterfinals, Feb. 20

8-West Orange at 1-East Orange Campus

5-Nutley at 4-Newark Shabazz

7-Newark Tech at 2-Newark Academy

11-Millburn at 3-University


North Jersey Section 2, Group 3 tournament

First round

Feb. 29

16-Iselin Kennedy at 1-Voorhees

9-Warren Hills at 8-Orange

12-Barringer at 5-Mendham

13-Governor Livingston at 4-Chatham

14-Irvington at 3-West Morris

11-Nutley at 6-Cranford

10-Rahway at 7-Summit

15-Carteret at 2-Somerville