Abby Scheidel of Nutley knows this is her last opportunity to make her mark in the state tournament.
"In my four years I've never won a state game and I'm really determined for us to win," said Scheidel, a senior guard. "Its win or go home so our season is on the line."
Nutley, which is seeded third, will play host to 14th-seeded Parsippany Hills in the opening round of the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 tournament on Monday, March 2 at 7 p.m.
The Lady Raiders will enter the game with a superb 18-8 record but also looking to snap a season-high three-game losing streak.
"We hit a bit of a rough patch lately," said Nutley head coach Larry Mitschow. "But we've been playing so well, we just lost to some good teams."
After starting the season 1-4, Nutley won 17 of its next 18 games, which included a 14-game winning streak.
The Lady Raiders then suffered a 43-41 loss to West Orange in the quarterfinal round of the Essex County Tournament on Feb. 8. That was followed by a 50-46 defeat to Glen Ridge five days later and then a 56-46 setback at Demarest on Tuesday.
"We could've won all three games," said Scheidel. "West Orange hit a very deep 3-pointer with about 20 seconds left to beat us and then Glen Ridge made about 11 3-pointers and was shooting really good.
"We got down to Mendham early but then started playing really well and just ran out of time. I think if we can play like we did in the second half of that game we'll be okay."
Scheidel, who reached the 1,000-point plateau on Jan. 13, is averaging 18.2 points this winter and has totaled 473 points so far this season.
Scheidel is hardly the only offensive spark for Nutley however as senior Jaden Long (9.6 ppg.), freshman Liana Minichini (7.7 ppg.) and sophomore Mackenzie Albert (8.2 ppg.) have all provided valuable minutes.
"It feels like teams can't just focus on me," Scheidel said. "A lot of different players have stepped up for us and are contributing."
If Nutley defeats Parsippany Hills, the Lady Raiders would remain home and play host to either sixth-seeded Mendham or 11th-seeded Cranford in a sectional quarterfinal on Wednesday, March 4.
The sectional semifinals are slated for Friday, March 6 with the championship game scheduled for Tuesday, March 10.
Nutley last won a sectional title in 2015, its first title since 1976.
"We were the 13th seed the last time we won a title," began Mitschew. "When it comes to the state tournament there's not much difference between teams despite the seeds."
With its high seed, Nutley is guaranteed to play at home for three games as long it wins.
"It means a lot to play at home," said Scheidel. "There are a lot of family and friends that come out to see us so we're very excited to be at home for as long as we can."
Nutley Boys Basketball
The Nutley boys basketball team wrapped up its 2019-'20 season with back-to-back victories as it defeated Shabazz (57-32) on Feb. 20 and Wallington (69-60) on Feb. 21.
The Raiders, under the direction of Robert Harbison, finished 6-17 overall and 2-12 in the Colonial Division of the Super Essex Conference.
The victory over Shabazz - led by Nick Schroeder's 13 points- snapped a 10-game losing streak for Nutley.
Schroeder, a sophomore guard, was Nutley's top offensive player, averaging 13.1 points and making 55 3-pointers.
Other catalysts this season for Nutley included senior Christopher Kruse (6.5 ppg.), junior Justin Edert (6.4 ppg., 33 3-pointers), junior Maguire Branigan (5.9 ppg.) and sophomore Matthew Harbison (4.5 ppg.).
The Raiders will graduate just three seniors this year which bodes well for the team next winter.
Market Your Business Through TAPinto Nutley
TAPinto Nutley will help you build your brand, improve your online presence and reach thousands of people in Nutley and beyond. Packages include social media promotion, native content, clickable banner ads and D.I.Y. publication of events, press releases and more. Become a TAPinto Nutley advertiser! Call (908) 279-0303, or click here.