NUTLEY, NJ - It may have not been pretty, but the Nutley High girls basketball team extended its winning streak on Saturday afternoon - and also advanced in the Essex County Tournament in the process.
Led by Abigail Scheidel and Jaden Long, who each had 13 points, fourth-seeded Nutley posted a 39-36 decision over 13th-seeded Arts in the ECT Round of 16 at Nutley High.
With the victory, the Lady Raiders have now won 11 in a row in improving to 16-5. Nutley will now play host to fourth-seeded and defending champion West Orange in the ECT quarterfinal round on Saturday, Feb. 15.
"We didn't play our best for sure," began Nutley head coach Larry Mitschow. "It was a sloppy win but we'll take it and look to improve our play."
Nutley held an 18-12 lead at the half but was outscored by Arts, 24-21, in the second half. In addition to Scheidel and Long, Nutley received nine points from Mackenzie Albert and two points each from Stephanie Luberto and Liana Minichini.
Nutley started its season dropping four of its first five games, but after suffering a 57-41 defeat at Payne Tech on Jan. 13 that evened its record at 5-5, they hasn't lost since.
The Lady Raiders are now 8-1 in the Liberty Division of the Super Essex Conference and have a chance to clinch the division title with victories in its next two games at Newark Academy on Tuesday at 4 p.m. and at Columbia on Thursday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m.
"We can't be satisfied with what we've done because we haven't really accomplished anything yet," said Mitschow. "We have to keep playing hard and at a high level."
Nutley last reached the quarterfinal round of the ECT in 2016 and will seek to advance to the semis against either top-seeded University or eighth-seeded West Essex on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at Weequahic High.
Nutley may be facing a West Orange team that is playing without sophomore sensation Kiley Capstraw (23.3 ppg.), who has been out with an injury for the last week.
"Capstraw is one of the best players in the county and we'll prepare like she's going to play," said Mitschow. "If she's on the court stopping her is the key to the game."
Nutley has its own sharpshooter in Scheidel, a senior guard, who is averaging 17.8 points and has made 69 3-pointers this winter.
Long, also a senior, has averaged 8.0 points a game with Minichini, a freshman, averaging 8.1 points and has made 30 3-pointers.
"Abby has pretty much led us the majority of the season," said Mitschow. "But Long has really stepped up her rebounding game. Its always good to have other options offensively and we've been lucky to have players that produce."
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