Nutley’s Scheidel has 1,000 or so memories over her brilliant career

Nutley High School head girls’ basketball coach Larry Mitschow was all set to have an intense discussion with his prized player, senior Abby Scheidel.

The Maroon Raiders had lost practically everyone from last year’s team, other than Scheidel.

“I was going to tell her that all the younger kids look up to her,” Mitschow said. “But I didn’t have to say anything. It was all understood.”

“The seniors who graduated were all good friends of mine,” Scheidel said. “Courtney Wilde (the last 1,000-point scorer for the Maroon Raiders), Alison Feaster, we all got really close. I figured that I needed to get into that leadership role.”

And it also helped that last year, Wilde was in pursuit of her 1,000th career point.

“I knew that it was my turn to get it,” Scheidel said. “I was only 160 points away. Seeing Courtney go through it last year really motivated me. I knew I could do it, too.”
So without any prodding or provocation, Scheidel decided to turn her game up a notch.

There was a time that Scheidel played other sports. But no longer. Scheidel was strictly a basketball player and she was determined to make her final year as a Maroon Raider a memorable one.

Scheidel took it upon herself to go to the Nutley Parks and Recreation facility for regular early morning workouts during the summer months at 7 a.m. with her own personal basketball coach, namely former Rutgers standout Joyce Bukowiec.

“We met three times a week,” Scheidel said of the learning lessons with Bukowiec. “She helps me with everything. She helped me get better defensively and with my shot.”

Mitschow knew that there was one aspect to Scheidel that didn’t need any tinkering – namely her personality.

“She’s the nicest kid I ever coached,” Mitschow said. “She’s No. 1 all-time. She’s just perfect. She’s a model student. She is always happy. She’s the kind of kid that you want your daughter to grow up into. I really couldn’t ask for anything more of her. She’s always the last one in our gym, helping to clean up the mess that others leave. She’s the first one to pick up the drink cups that are left around. She’s the mediator between me and the other kids.”

And the greatest tribute to Scheidel comes now:

“My two young daughters play basketball in my yard and they battle to see which one can be Abby,” Mitschow said. “They both want to be Abby when they’re playing.”

That statement says it all about Scheidel’s personality.

But Scheidel the player needed some fine tuning, especially since her friends were all in college.

“I had to become more consistent as a player,” Scheidel said.

It helped that Scheidel spent the summer playing AAU basketball with and against the best competition around. She played for the New Jersey Crusaders AAU program, which also helped to prepare her for the season ahead.

“I was playing against competition that I didn’t know,” Scheidel said. “You just go out there and play against whoever was out there. There were a lot of D-I (NCAA Division I) level players that I was playing against. It really helped me a lot.”

So the nicest kid around just needed to become just a little better of a player to lead the Maroon Raiders through the season.

But things didn’t exactly start off well in the new season. The Maroon Raiders lost their first three games and Scheidel was averaging about 14 points per game.

“I think I was a little discouraged,” Scheidel said.

Scheidel was also not getting any scholarship offers like others received in the past.

“I had to reach out to schools and had to get their attention,” said Scheidel, who sent out a host of introductory e-mails to college coaches.

“She put a lot of time in playing AAU and getting ready for the next level,” Mitschow said. “She worked hard at it.”

Scheidel is also a good student, so it was the combination of her prowess on the hardwood and her intelligence in the classroom that led to Scheidel deciding upon attending Muhlenberg College in the fall.

The talented point guard has also put her game in overdrive over the last three weeks. Over her last seven games, Scheidel is averaging 21.8 points per game, almost 10 rebounds per contest and seven assists per outing.

During that time frame, Scheidel became the seventh Nutley girl to reach the prestigious 1,000-point plateau, joining her friend Wilde and Blair Watson, the current star for the University of Maryland, four years ago.

For her efforts, Scheidel has been named as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.

Mitschow is impressed with the way Scheidel has picked up her game.

“She’s on another level right now,” Mitschow said. “She leads us in practically every category. Her shooting percentage is higher than ever. She has 40 3-pointers and made 45 all of last season. She’s unbeatable when teams play zone. She doesn’t turn the ball over at all. I think she saw all the writing on the wall and decided to turn it up. She’s a very bright girl. She’s very smooth with the ball and her composure is the key. I don’t think we could ask for anything more.”

Scheidel is undecided officially about what she plans on majoring in at Muhlenberg, but she is interested in journalism.

“It’s a small school and I wanted the small school setting,” Scheidel said. “It’s a high academic school with a good basketball program. I can see myself fitting in well there. I enjoy writing. I think it’s crazy that it’s all coming to an end soon. I just can’t picture it. I was always the youngest on the team and now I’m the oldest. It just doesn’t feel real to me.”

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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”