NUTLEY, NJ-- As the beginning of a new boys basketball season gets ready to tip for Nutley High, veteran head coach Robert Harbison has a very honest outlook.
"We lost about 40 points per game through graduation last year so we're going to take our lumps," said Harbison, who is entering his 21st season at the helm. "It'll be tough until we get our feet under us."
Nutley will be looking to improve upon last year's team that finished 10-15 and failed to qualify for the state tournament for the first time since 2015.
The Raiders will open its season on Thursday, Dec. 19 when it plays host to North Star Academy in the middle school gym at 6 p.m.
Nutley is situated in the Colonial Division of the Super Essex Conference along with East Orange, Livingston, Millburn, North Star Academy, Orange, Shabazz and Verona.
A year ago, the Raiders finished 5-8 in the Colonial Division good for a fourth place finish.
Nutley lost Marty Higgins (First Team All-Colonial), Eli Acosta and Jordan Swann (Second Team All-Colonial) and Jason Nazaruk (Honorable Mention All-Colonial) to graduation but still return some talented players.
The Raiders will be likely be led this season by 6-3 senior swing Aidan Ozdemir, 6-1 senior guard Chris Kruse, 6-1 senior guard Tyler Dick, 5-11 sophomore guard Nick Schroeder, junior guard Jordan Greene, junior center Maguire Branigan, sophomore guard Matt Harbison, junior guard Justin Edert, sophomore guards Karan Youssef, Jake Cirminiello and Matt Pergola and sophmore forward Jake O'Connor.
"We have a lot of players that haven't played at this level yet and still have a lot to learn," said Harbison. "We also have some real good shooters. The ones that earn playing time will continue to play."
After its opener, Nutley will be off until the final week of the month when it travels to Hudson county to take part in the Kearny Tournament along with Cranford and the Bard School from Newark. First round games will be played on Dec. 27 with the consolation and final slated for the following day.
Nutley, which started last season 0-5, will play host to Verona on Jan. 3 at 6 p.m. before playing at Millburn on Tuesday, Jan. 7.
The Raiders have home scrimmages scheduled for Friday, Dec. 13 against Belleville at 4 p.m. and Monday, Dec. 16 against Bergen Tech at 4:30 p.m. and a final road scrimmage on Tuesday, Dec. 17 against Wayne Hills at 4 p.m.