Middletown North’s Higgins eclipses 2,000 points in boys’ basketball

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During the summer between his sophomore and junior years at Middletown High School North, Rob Higgins added a new skill to his boys’ basketball game.

Higgins could already blow by defenders, bury midrange jump shots and steal the ball to create transition opportunities. He just couldn’t shoot three pointers.

The Middletown native knew that if he learned to shoot threes, he would become unstoppable. Every day in the summer of 2017, Higgins went to Evergreen Park in Middletown to work on launching treys.

Higgins shot in the mornings, afternoons and nights, hoisting about 1,000 threes per day.

“I didn’t even go out that summer,” he said.

Evergreen Park’s baskets were also double-rimmed, which made it twice as hard to sink jumpers.

“Sometimes I’d get frustrated because they’d be halfway down and just pop out. My shot was a line drive. On double rims, that has no shot at going in,” Higgins said. “Shooting there helped me add arc and really helped me in the long run.”

The experience transformed Higgins into a great shooter. It also led directly to Jan. 24, 2019 when, as a senior, Higgins scored his 2,000th career point in Middletown North’s home loss, 66-63, to Neptune High School.

In the third quarter, Higgins ran around a screen, caught the ball at the top of the key and rose up for a three. There was no double rim to deny him this time.

Higgins swished the three and scored the 1,098th, 1,099th and 2,000th points of his career. The referees stopped the game as Higgins’ parents, Robert and Allison Higgins, teammates and coaches walked onto the court to congratulate him.

The senior posed for pictures with a 2,000-point banner. He became just the 100th player in New Jersey history to reach the milestone.

“It was something I’ll never forget,” Higgins said. “I can’t even describe how I felt.” 

“He scores in a variety of ways. That’s what makes him great,” said Middletown North coach Mike Iasparro. “He makes threes, he has a midrange pull up game off the dribble and he can score at the rim with both hands.”

“Add all that up and he’s really hard to stop,” Iasparro added.

Higgins was always hard to defend. He led the Lions in scoring as a freshman and sophomore, averaging 16.5 and 23.4 points per game, respectively.

But the summer at Evergreen Park took Higgins’ game to the next level. As a junior last winter, he poured in 28.8 points per contest. This year, he is now amassing 29.4 points a game.

“I feel comfortable,” Higgins said. “I’m shooting with a lot of confidence.”

Middletown North is 9-14 this winter. It won’t make the Shore Conference Tournament. But the Lions have already earned the No. 9 seed in the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 3 sectional tournament.

Higgins is confident that he can close his career with a postseason run.

“Our state bracket is winnable,” he said.

No matter what Middletown North does, Higgins will play Division 1 collegiate basketball next winter. He is still deciding between a lot of schools, including Wagner College, American University and Saint Peter’s University.

To compete with Division 1 guards, Higgins has a new initiative for the upcoming summer: add 10 pounds of muscle to his 6-1, 175-pound frame.

“My next step is to get in the weight room and get a little bigger,” Higgins said. “Then just keep doing what I’m doing.”