HAMPTON — When a girls high school basketball player reaches 1,500 career points, it would be easy to just call her a scorer.
However, Hampton standout Dorothy Dugger is more than a scorer.
“She’s a complete package,” said Lady Bulldogs’ head coach Leon Tolley. “She doesn’t demand or monopolize the ball. She could shoot more than she does, but she defers to her teammates.
“Sometimes I don’t like that. She doesn’t want to be a ball hog, but the bottom line is if we want to win we have to get her the ball. She opens things up for everybody else.”
Dugger has helped her team win 15 of the 19 games they’ve played this season. They have that record despite Tolley purposely over-scheduling his team to get it ready for postseason play.
The 5-foot-7 senior guard reached the 1,000-point mark in the middle of her junior year, and moved past the next milestone recently. She was honored for the accomplishment prior to the boys’ game against Johnson County on Tuesday.
“I had no idea I had that many points,” said Dugger, who has hit for 30 or more points three times this season, including a career-high 32 against Sullivan South. “My teammates made good passes and got me that far. They have helped me tremendously, not just in points but on the floor, too.”
Reaching such a milestone is rare, but doing it with an ACL injury in the middle makes it even more impressive. Dugger was hurt during the last game of her sophomore season, a tough loss to Cosby in the regional semifinals.
“There was a loose ball and I went to get it, and a girl hit me from the side,” said Dugger. “My knee gave out.”
Immediately, Dugger sensed something was very wrong.
“Most of the time I’m pretty strong-minded, and I don’t think about things,” said Dugger. “I knew something was wrong because I was crying, and I don’t cry much.”
Forced to watch the final few minutes of the game, Dugger said it was very difficult as her team’s small lead slipped away.
“Sitting on the bench it was tough watching my teammates,” said Dugger. “I felt like I let them down, and I felt like I let Coach Tolley down.”
Dugger worked hard in rehab in the offseason, and was ready to go her junior year. Unfortunately, it ended the same way team-wise: with a loss to Cosby in the region semifinals.
This year, Dugger said she wants her team to do something more.
“I would like to go to the state,” she said. “There are so many good teams, it will be tough. But I think our team can do if we work hard and do what we’re supposed to do. I believe in our team.”
Dugger said she also believes in her coach.
“I think he’s the best coach around here,” said Dugger. “He’s so smart. And he’s not only there in basketball, he’s there for us in every aspect. He’s a real good person, and a great coach, too. He does his best to get us where we need to be.”
Dugger actually impressed Tolley with her work ethic before she was on his team.
“When she was younger, her and her sister, Paige, and her dad, Earl, would go out to the blacktop in the heat of summer,” said Tolley. “They would go out there three or four hours every day. Every time, you would see them playing basketball.”
Paige, who was a teammate of Dorothy for three seasons, helped Dorothy improve.
“I loved practicing, and my sister made me better,” said Dugger. “We shot every day. Paige helped me competitively.
“My dad has been a big influence on me — also, my mom and all of the coaches.”
Dugger said she didn’t really stand out in basketball until her seventh grade year. That’s when she started working on her left hand.
“I started being able to make a left-handed layup, and a lot of people couldn’t do it,” said Dugger. “I worked so much on it, it came easy after a while.”
By the time she got to high school, she stepped in and started contributing points right away.
“Where I had practiced so much and worked so hard, I wasn’t nervous,” said Dugger. “I did what I could do, and did what Coach Tolley asked me to do.”
When this season is over, Dugger said she would like to continue playing. Currently, Lees-McRae and King College have expressed some interest.
“I would like to play college ball,” said Dugger, who makes grades of As and Bs. “I think it would be a good experience.”
Dugger and the Lady Bulldogs have a key Watauga Valley Conference game tonight at North Greene.