LIVINGSTON, NJ — Livingston’s Abe Rimatzki has become highly recognized as a top-level offensive boys basketball player in the Super Essex Conference, but in 2019, the junior took a different approach to improving his game.
“I’m definitely a more offensive-rounded player, but this year I wanted to focus more on my defense,” said Rimatzki.
In a season where the junior broke out and averaged nearly 10 points per game, Rimatzki is particularly proud of his defense. He managed to average one steal per game and saved his best defensive performance for the last game of the season against Hackensack. (Click HERE for game coverage.)
“I definitely think I played one of my best games on defense that game,” he said.
Rimatzki was an integral part of the group’s 2-3 zone defense. Rimatzki, who is more of a prototypical guard, was forced due to roster restrictions to play closer to the paint against bigger and stronger defenders. His pesky nature allowed for the group to force tough shots and create key turnovers.
“I had to work more on getting stronger and bigger to box out the guys I was playing against,” said Rimatzki.
This season, coupled with some senior leadership, the Livingston High School boys basketball team ascended to heights not seen from the Lancers in a long time. The group finished out the year with a 13-10 record, hosting home playoff games in both the county and state tournaments.
“It was a totally changed mindset,” said Rimatzki. “We focused more on defense this season as opposed to just how our offense was running…We were able to pretty much shut everybody down.”
Rimatzki will be expected to take on additional responsibilities next season as he goes into his senior year with the potential to serve as a captain for a team with playoff aspirations.
“I’m definitely going to step up my leadership and speak up more,” said Rimatzki. “Me and all the juniors this year, we’re going to have to have a bigger voice [as seniors].”
Although leading a squad might be a difficult task for some, Rimatzki is eager for the opportunity. Citing lessons learned from current seniors Chris Boulin and Jack Ernst, Rimatzki is eager to infuse his own personality on the team.
“We’re going to have higher expectations than we did this year,” he said.
For Rimatzki, preparation for the 2020 season has already begun. With spring league and practices approaching in the coming weeks, the junior will look to lead the group through the next evolution of the program.