February 8, 2012

Duggan honored to join 1,000-point list

Sports Columnist

Last Friday night, in the third quarter of Ocean City High School’s girls basketball game with Lower Cape May, junior center Julia Duggan took a pass from Reilly Larkin and spun up a left-handed shot off the glass.

The ball rolled around the rim before it eventually fell into the net.

Duggan had scored her 1,000th point, becoming just the 11th girl to do so at OCHS. Only two others had accomplished the fete as juniors, Lisa Foglio and Margaret Rowell. In fact, in a bit of irony, Foglio scored No. 1,000 on Feb. 3, 1978 – exactly 34 years to the day before Duggan joined her on the list.

“The ball seemed to take forever to go in,” Duggan said. “I wasn’t thinking about it constantly. I decided to just let the opportunity come to me.”

Once the ball spun into the basket, the celebration began.

“I really wanted to do it at home,” Duggan said, “where it would be easy for my friends and family to all be there. When I saw them stop the game and people running toward me it finally hit me.”

Duggan is proud to join Ocean City’s list of 1,000-point scorers.

“I know Kelly Brady,” she said, “and she was a great player, a very good scorer. And Nancy White is a terrific player. I don’t know many of the others on the list personally, though I’ve heard about some of them. To be listed with them is a great honor.”

OCHS coach Paul Baruffi, who coached both Brady and White, is glad he’s had the chance to coach Duggan.

“She is the first person of her size with her kind of overall ability,” Baruffi said. “She has great basketball knowledge, she gives us all confidence. The kids will tell you that she is a terrific teammate with maturity and poise on the court.”

Duggan will tell you that she is aware of the importance of her teammates. Larkin and Emily Gillian, for example, have combined for more than 300 assists, many of them to Julia. And the various moves she has run successfully with her sister, Emily, have resulted in many of her points.

“You can’t do it alone in basketball,” Julia said. “I have been lucky to have the teammates around me that I’ve had. I think that we’ve all made each other better. Without their talents, it (scoring 1,000 points) would not have been possible.”

Baruffi agrees. “Julia blends with the rest of the team,” he said. “She will do whatever is necessary to help the team win. One of the things that most impresses college coaches is the way she can come away from the basket and handle the ball, even break presses for us.”

There is one teammate, in particular, whose manner has made things even better for Julia.

“When they were celebrating the 1,000th point,” Baruffi said, “I was watching Emily. She was just as excited and emotional as Julia was. You could see how proud she was of her sister. That is so important. It would be easy for an older sister to resent all the attention her younger sister gets. But not Emily. She is so selfless, so proud of her sister.

“I told Emily recently that she shouldn’t worry about not getting the headlines or setting scoring records. She is such a great defender and she can shoot. She’s going to play at Gettysburg the next four years. And she is also willing to do whatever we need her to do so we can win.”

So, Julia Duggan made history last week. She joined a list of some of the best players to ever wear the OCHS uniform. And she gives full credit to the teammates who helped her get there. Especially the big sister who helped show her the way.

Read more of Tom Williams' columns