BLOOMFIELD, NJ-- Zac Dearwater had a very clear vision of what he wanted to achieve when he took the reins as head coach of the Bloomfield High girls basketball team a year ago.
"Part of what I'm trying to do is get the program back to the way it was years ago," said Dearwater. "We have a great legacy here and I want to uphold that."
Dearwater is off to a great start, as last season he guided the Lady Bengals to a 19-8 record and the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 1, Group 4 championship - the school's first sectional crown in 19 years.
Before taking over as head coach last year, Dearwater was an assistant for the previous five seasons under Dana Morton, who compiled a 77-43 record in that span.
While Bloomfield won its first sectional title in nearly two decades the Lady Bengals have had steady success averaging 15.5 victories over the last eight seasons. The only team in that interval that failed to finish over .500 was the 2017-18 squad that finished 8-15.
Bloomfield graduated three of its five starters from last year's team but will still have a solid nucleus of players.
This year's roster includes seniors Gina Perrotta, Mia Lopez and Melanie Hidalgo, juniors Hannah Gulley, Natalie Lloyd, Casey Dolan, Christina Vocaturo and Melina Hidalgo, sophomores Ashley Martinez, Chiara Hilario, Lexis Farmer, Lucy Heyman and Aliyah Sanchez and freshman Stella Schmidt.
"Its a different group and there's a bit of a learning curve with just three seniors but its not overwhelming," said Dearwater. "This is a good group of kids and they have given maximal effort so far in practices and scrimmages."
The 2019-'20 campaign gets underway for Bloomfield on Thursday, Dec. 19 when it travels to play at Newark Tech at 7 p.m. The Lady Bengals will then play at West Essex in North Caldwell on saturday, Dec. 21 at 2 p.m.
The Lady Bengals will then host the Bloomfield Holiday Tournament on Friday-Saturday, Dec. 27-28. Glen Ridge will meet Glen Ridge in the first round on Dec. 27 at 2 p.m. with Bloomfield taking on Peoples Prep of Newark following at 3:30 p.m.
Bloomfield is in the American Division of the Super Essex Conference this season along with Newark Tech, West Orange, Arts, University, East Orange and Montclair Immaculate.
"We moved up into the top division and there's better competition for sure," said Dearwater, who is assisted by Nicole Pacicco, Robert Finlay and Eddie Capozzi on the sidelines. "With the success we had last year there's a huge motivational standard the players can set for themselves. We're looking forward to the season starting."