NUTLEY, NJ — The Nutley High School girls basketball team didn’t panic.
The Lady Raiders had an inauspicious start to the season, losing its first three games.
But head coach Larry Mitschow’s squad turned around its fortunes, winning nine of the next 11 games to improve to a stellar 9-5 record through Jan. 21.
Leading the way for the Raiders has been senior guard Abby Scheidel, who scored her 1,000th career point in the 54-41 loss to host Payne Tech on Jan. 13 in Newark. Scheidel needed 10 points for the milestone and finished with 17. The loss ended the Raiders’ four-game winning streak.
The Raiders won the next four games. Scheidel had 20 points and freshman guard Liana Minichini had 18 in the 55-38 home win over Newark Academy on Jan. 14.
Scheidel netted 23 points and sophomore guard Mackenzie Albert scored 16 to pace Nutley to a 55-42 win at Mount St. Dominic Academy on Jan. 17 in Caldwell. The next day, the Raiders defeated Columbia, 50-33, at home, behind Scheidel’s 19 points. Minichini had 10 points, senior forward Jaden Long had eight and sophomore guard Alex Twomey had seven.
Albert had 16 points, Long had 13 points, Scheidel had eight points and senior forward Sofia Lamond netted six points in the 48-27 win at Glen Ridge on Jan. 21.
Other contributors for the Raiders this season are sophomore center Stephanie Luberto and sophomore guard Rebecca Echevarria. Sophomore Nicole Cicchetti and freshman Megan Riccardi are also gaining experience.
In the William Masopust Holiday Classic, the Raiders defeated Wallington, 5-24, for its first win of the season, lost to Kearny in the semifinals, 49-39, and defeated host Lodi, 64-22, in the third-place consolation. Nutley won the next three games, beating Verona, 60-40, at home; West Essex, 57-49, in North Caldwell and Newark Arts, 41-34, at home.
Mitschow said the team’s goals are to compete for the Super Essex Conference-Liberty Division title and qualify for the state tournament. “In order to achieve these goals, we are going to have to push one another in practice everyday and get off to a strong start early n to gain confidence in one another,” Mitschow said. “Building team chemistry will be important as well, with so many younger kids in the program.”