Nutley’s Higgins reaches 1,000-point plateau

Nutley High School senior Marty Higgins has gained his reputation as a phenomenal baseball player. After all, Higgins has already signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball on a scholarship at St. John’s University. The Maroon Raider baseball team is expected to enjoy a highly successful campaign this spring.

But Higgins comes from basketball royalty. His father, Marty, Sr. is the all-time leading scorer at Nutley, having tallied 1,855 points during his career in the late 1980s before heading off to the University of Maine.

So the younger Higgins is a basketball player as well, in part because of his father’s influence.

Last week, Marty Higgins played at the Kearny Christmas Tournament, needing 12 points to reach the prestigious 1,000-point plateau.

The Maroon Raiders faced off against Memorial of West New York in the Kearny tourney.

Needless to say, Higgins was a little anxious, thinking and worrying about becoming the sixth Nutley player to ever reach 1,000 points.

“My nerves got to me,” the younger Higgins said. “I was anxious about it all day.”

So at halftime of the Memorial game, Higgins had all of two points.

“My coach (Bob Harbison) told me to calm down and relax,” Higgins said. “He said that I was thinking about it way too much.”

The younger Higgins said that he always dreamed of reaching the 1,000-point club from when he was a little boy and walked into the Nutley gym for the first time, realizing his own name was already on the walls.

“I looked up to the rafters and I actually saw my name,” Higgins said, alluding to the fact that it was his father’s name on the wall. “I realized it was my Dad’s name and thought it was so cool. I wanted to be up there as well.”

So here it was, 12 points away and Marty Higgins was anticipating the moment too much.

“I honestly thought that I was always going to do it,” Higgins said. “I started varsity since my freshman year. I thought that I was going to score a lot of points. I always talked to Dad about it. I always thought I had a chance.”

As the second half began against Memorial last week, Higgins started to feel the tension about reaching the milestone suddenly slip away. He nailed a 3-point shot, like he always does, then added another soon after. And then another.

“I hit the three 3’s in a row,” Higgins said. “I knew it was going to come.”

Higgins needed 12 points and he scored exactly 12 points to reach the impressive milestone. Unfortunately, the Maroon Raiders lost, 56-42, but still, Higgins became the first Nutley athlete to ever score 1,000 points and have 100 hits in baseball. And the Higgins family, Marty, Sr. and son, became the first father-son combination in the school’s history to both score 1,000 points.

“It means a lot to me,” the younger Higgins said. “Especially since Dad scored all his points. Basketball is obviously not my main sport, but I’m proud to be able to reach the same milestone as my Dad.”

The elder Higgins, who is involved in Nutley youth basketball as well as serving as an assistant on the Nutley varsity, was moved by his son’s performance.

“It’s such a nice milestone,” the elder Higgins said. “He’s such a great kid who works hard at everything he does. I couldn’t be prouder. He’s worked hard his whole life and deserves to have a moment like this. As a father, to see him reach this milestone is so impressive. He always talked about it. He said, ‘You think I can get my name up there with yours?’ He’s a polite kid, a well-liked kid. He’s every teacher’s favorite student and every coach’s favorite player.”

Harbison, his head coach in both basketball and baseball, echoed those sentiments.

“He’s just a good boy,” Harbison said. “He’s the first one to get 1,000 points and 100 hits and I was the one to coach him to both. He’s just a tough, hard-nosed old school guard who gets the job done. He’s a good athlete who always wants to win. He’s the kind of kid that you want to coach and you talk about every kid becoming.”

Higgins becomes the second Nutley basketball player in the last two years to reach the 1,000-point mark, joining Matt Schettino.

There has been only one down side to the Maroon Raiders’ season thus far. At press time, they have yet to win, dropping all four games.

But Higgins has joined the list of 1,000-point scorers, a list that includes his father.

“I wouldn’t want to be stuck in the 900s and not get it,” the younger Higgins said. “Now that it’s over, it’s very relieving. There aren’t many more milestones to get, so I can focus more now on winning.”

And then, of course, comes the anticipated baseball season.

“I can’t wait to see what we can do,” Higgins said. “Without a doubt, we’ll have a little pressure on us.”




The Higgins family celebrates Marty reaching the 1,000-point milestone, joining his father, Marty, Sr. in the prestigious club. From left are Jenna Higgins, Marty Higgins, Sr., Marty Higgins, mother Jodi and sister Mia. Photo courtesy of Marty Higgins, Sr.



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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.”