NUTLEY, NJ-- The Nutley High girls' basketball team will open the regular season with a tough road game at Montclair Immaculate, on Dec. 19, at 4 p.m. And while veteran coach Larry Mitschow knows his team has a lot of question marks, after graduation struck hard last June, he also likes what he's seeing from his squad.
The Raiders will play eight of its first nine games on the road, in the early stages of the season. After the game with Montclair Immaculate, it will play at Randolph, on Dec. 21, at 1 p.m. and then visit Villa Walsh, on Dec. 23, at 11:30 a.m. The Raiders will play in a 3-game Christmas tournament over the holidays, then have a game at Payne Tech, on Jan. 3, before the first home contest, on Jan. 7, against Verona, at 6 p.m.
"It's an interesting schedule," said Mitschow. "I think it might benefit us, because later in the season, we'll have more home games and that could help in getting ready for the county and state tournaments."
The team captains are seniors Jaden Long, Abby Scheidel and Sofia Lamond. Long could play forward, or guard while Scheidel, a top scorer, will most likely be the point guard. Lamond will start at forward.
"They're a good group of senior captains," said Mitshow. "For that matter, we've got a real good group of kids. They're fun to work with and as the season progresses, I think there will be a lot of overall improvement."
This is Mitshow's eighth season at the helm. His assistant coaches are once again Matt Francello and Kara McNish.
"We lost four of five starters from last year's team to graduation," said Mitschow. "And we're going to be a young team this season. I think playing in the (Super Essex Conference's) Liberty Division will be good for us. We were in the American Division last season, but with so many new kids, this will give us a chance to play strong competition and work on our games, as well."
The roster also features junior Lindsey Moraski, sophomores Nicole Cicchetti, Stephanie Luberto, Mackenzie Albert, Rebecca Echavarria and Alex Twomey, along with freshmen Megan Riccardi and Liana Minichini.
"We have 20 players in the program this year," said Mitschow. "It's a good working number for varsity and sub-varsity. The goals are still the same. We want to qualify for the state tournament and get better as the season progresses. We're looking forward to getting the season started."