Whalers lose their leader
Kerrianne Dugan spent time trying to figure out if there was any way she could still coach her New London High School girls' basketball team after relocating to Florida with fiancé Evan Jensen.
In a perfect world, Dugan would do just that.
Instead, she's stepping down after leading the Whalers for two seasons, including their first state championship in March.
"My fiancé is in the Air Force, and we weren't sure where he'd be stationed," Dugan said. "I was planning on staying, but it was just a matter of where he'd be stationed. It turned out that he'll be stationed in Florida, and I had been trying to decide if I would be able to do both. Move down there, and then come back (for the season). I was going back-and-forth with that every day. I just realized that it was not going to work out. The girls need and deserve to have someone that's here 100 percent.
"Coaching basketball is a 365 day thing if you really put the time in and have a good team and do as much as you want with them. It's preseason, postseason and everything else in between. If I'm still going to be coaching, then I wanted to be able to put all of that into it. It was just not fair to them not to receive all of that."
New London underwent a remarkable transformation during Dugan's two seasons. The Whalers finished a combined 8-52 in the three seasons before Dugan's arrival, her first head coaching job at any level.
New London qualified for the state tournament in its first season with Dugan, who helped Waterford to two state finals as a player.
The Whalers went supernova this past season as they finished 24-4, culminating in a 57-52 win over Morgan in the Class M final at Mohegan Sun Arena. It was the first CIAC state championship for a New London girls' program since the outdoor track team won in 1979.
Senior Lexus Childs-Harris was named The Day's All-Area Player of the Year and Dugan was chosen as the New Haven Register's Coach of the Year for its girls' basketball all-state team.
"I'll keep in touch with them," Dugan said. "I think I'll have a barbeque for them at my place soon. It's really a special group. Every single person, from the coaches to the players to the manager. Everybody clicked so well, and it was really like a family. I know people say that a lot, but it really was a special group and I'll miss them a lot.
"I couldn't have asked for a more amazing group of girls. They'll always hold a special place in my heart and I'll never forget all of these memories."
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