No one had to tell Anna Green before the season that she would need to establish herself as the go-to scorer on a Nutley team that won just eight games a year ago.
“It’s kind of something that has been expected because I’ve been the one that has taken basketball more seriously,” said Green. “I’ve been playing AAU since about seventh grade. My first sport has been basketball since I started playing. So I think it was kind of expected of me and I knew that from when I started high school.”
Now in her third season in the Raiders’ starting lineup, Green has become one of Essex County’s top scorers and Nutley a contender in the SEC’s Liberty Division.
Green is averaging 19.7 points per game during Nutley’s current three-game winning streak. She struck for a season-high 21 points in a blowout win over East Orange on Jan. 16. Then, two days later, Green had 20 points and seven rebounds in a 53-50 overtime victory at arch-rival Bloomfield.
These performances have earned Green The Observer Athlete of the Week.
For the season, Green is averaging 15.5 points per game, more than seven points more than last year.
While last week was her most productive offensively, Green has been a consistent performer all season long, scoring in double figures in 13 of her team’s 14 games so far.
“She definitely has always had it in her. I think she just needed the confidence,” head coach Kara McNish said. “If she misses the first or the second shot, she finds another way to score and I think that’s something she didn’t have in the past. It was live and die by the 3-pointer.”
Before this year, Green was known primarily as an outside shooter, albeit a pretty solid one who averaged a 3-pointer per game over her sophomore and junior seasons.
While Green’s 3-point rate has gone up this season with 26 in 14 games, so has all other aspects of her offensive game as she drives to the basket more and is on pace to set career-highs in virtually every statistical category both offensively and defensively.
“I think it’s something I really wanted to work hard for, especially since it is my senior year,” Green said. “I really wanted to show everyone what I can do, especially our rivals this year. It’s a big year for us since it’s most of our senior year and these are the girls I’ve been playing with since I was little.
“I think I just wanted to show my team what I can do, I wanted to show my coach what I can do, and I wanted to show the other teams that I’m not only a 3-pointer shooter. I can do so much more.”
Opponents didn’t get a chance to see all Green could do as just three games into last season she broke a bone in her left hand that cost her four weeks of the season. While Green was able to return for the final 11 games of what was a trying 8-15 season for the Raiders.
“She ended up coming back, but I don’t think she was ever fully healed so I just don’t know that she really got to play up to her fullest potential,” said McNish. “This year she’s just kind of taking control of the game. She’s a scoring threat and everybody knows. But she does all the little things on defense too. She gets everybody going, she gets steals, when she gets stopped she makes good passes. She’s just an all-around player and it’s hard to take her off the court.”
Green is unsure if she will play basketball in college. Whether or not this ends up being her last season, she’s proud of the progress this winter has provided both for her individually as well as her team.
“It’s something I’ve been working for my whole life and for me to see how well I think I’ve been doing this season, it makes me proud of myself to see how far I’ve come since I first started playing, “ Green said. “And then as a team, it’s just exciting because we’re having a winning season so far and it’s just a good way to go out.”
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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer
Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (nj.com, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)