GLEN RIDGE, NJ--The 2019-2020 basketball season officially began with tryouts on Nov. 25 at Glen Ridge High.

The girls' team, coming off a tremendous 17-11 season last winter, earned a promotion to the Super Essex Conference's (SEC) Liberty Division for this winter.

"It's going to be a challenge," said Glen Ridge third-year head coach Joe Mazzarella. "We have some talented kids, with experience, but we also lost about 800 points of offense to graduation."

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Mazzarella was referring to Claire McMahon, a career 1,000 point scorer for the Ridgers in 2019 and Jenny Lisvoicz, who may have been the team's most consistent player last year.

"Claire was a force on the board and gave us a lot of scoring," said Mazzarella. "And Jenny, she was everywhere. She could hit a big shot, play defense and rebound. That's a lot of talent to lose."

McMahon and Lisovicz were also 3-sport athletes for the Ridgers, playing soccer and lacrosse. McMahon attends Syracuse University, where she may play club lacrosse this spring and Lisovicz is at Washington and Lee University, where she plans to play lacrosse.

A good nucleus of players are back, led by senior captains Haleigh Pine, Sarah Cullinan and Michaila Dowd. 

"All three of our captains are 3-year starters," said Mazzarella. "They're great kids and hard workers. I'm really proud of them."

Cullinan, a point guard, will be a 2-year captain this season. Pine will also play guard while Dowd is a forward.

"We'll need to be an up-tempo team this year," said Mazzarella. "I like that kind of basketball, for sure. While we establish some scoring continuity, we'll have to be aggressive, as well, with a pressing-style of attack. Our conditioning will be a key, too."

Glen Ridge opens the regular season on Dec. 19, at home, against Columbia, at 6 p.m. That will be part of a doubleheader, as the boys team also open, at home, with a 4 p.m. game against Brearley High. The team's first scrimmage is at Memorial, of West New York, on Dec. 9, at 5:30 p.m. On Dec. 13, the Ridgers host Morris Hills in a 4 p.m. scrimmage.

The Ridger boys' basketball team is also optimistic this season. Veteran head coach Liam Carr has a talented group of players, who will compete in the SEC's Independence Division in 2019-2020.

"It will be a good division for us," said Carr. "Every game will be a battle."

The Ridgers had a good summer of playing and Carr likes what he's seen from the team, beginning with captains Joe DeLuca and Sam Trunley. 

Glen Ridge has had some tremendous teams of late. The 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 squads advanced to sectional finals and finished with 23-6 and 21-8 records respectively. Last year's team, which was very young, was 8-16.

The team will host Nutley, on Dec. 10 and Dayton High, of Springfield, on Dec. 12, both at 4 p.m. in scrimmages. The regular season opener is on Thursday, Dec. 19, when Brearley High comes to town, for a 4 p.m. tip off. The following day, the Ridgers travel to Montclair Kimberley in a 7 p.m. contest.

The annual Glen Ridge Holiday Tournament will have a different look this season. The tourney will be played at Bloomfield High, with the girls competing against People's Prep, Mountain Lakes and Bloomfield while the boys will be in with Bloomfield, People's Prep and Bayonne. Next season, the tournament will be hosted by Glen Ridge.