NUTLEY, NJ – Despite finishing with a 9-18 record, the Nutley High School girls varsity basketball team showed much resiliency after a tough start.
The Raiders, under head coach Larry Mitschow, went 2-10 in the challenging Super Essex Conference-American Division, which features the likes of Newark Tech, West Orange, University and East Orange.
In the Essex County Tournament, 11th-seeded NHS beat No. 22 seed and divisional foe Payne Tech, 46-33, in the third preliminary round and lost at No. 6 seed East Orange, another divisional foe, 32-29, in the round of 16. NHS had byes in the first and second preliminary rounds.
In the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group 3 state tournament, the Raiders again were the No. 11 seed and lost at No. 6 seed Somerville, 36-23, Feb. 26 to the end season.
Though they fell a bit short of Mitschow’s expectations, the Raiders battled hard.
“After starting the season 0-5, I have to admit I started to panic a little bit,” said Mitschow. ”We were having a hard time scoring points, and shots just weren’t falling. Over the next 18 games, we were 9-9 and improved our overall record to 9-14. Playing in the tough American Division of the SEC really takes its toll, playing top 20 teams twice each, as well as some tough non-conference opponents.”
The Raiders gave a good effort in the county loss to a good East Orange team. “Our county game at East Orange was a battle the whole game,” Mitschow said. “Neither team could get anything going offensively.”
Mitschow also noted that his team could have beaten Somerville.
“If we would of shot a little better, we would have pulled the upset in the state tournament,” he said. “Somerville began the game up 14-2. We really dug deep to get back into the game, trailing 18-16 at the half. It was the same story in the second half; just couldn’t hit a shot.
“Our kids played hard all year, and I’m really proud of their effort and attitude.”
- Courtney Wilde, senior, 11.3 points per game (1,123 career points)
- Abby Scheidel, junior, 10.6 ppg
- Rebecca Granata, senior, 4.5 ppg
- Alaina Feaster, senior, 3.1 ppg
- Mackenzie Moraski, senior, 2.4 ppg
Despite a strong senior class, the Raiders remain hopeful for next season.
“Next season we will hopefully drop one division lower to make the competition slightly more competitive,” Mitschow said. “We lose six seniors to graduation, including four starters, who are going to be very tough to replace. Being able to practice together with the JV team all season really gave us a sense of what we have coming up. I also was able to catch some of the eighth grade travel games, so I have a good idea of what they can offer our program.
“This summer we will once again join the Kearny Summer League and try and build some chemistry on the court. I like the direction our program is headed and hopefully next year, we can bounce back and win some more games.”