Dulin sisters’ era comes to a close
Jonathan Law senior guard Laura Dulin suited up and played for the final time in one of her school’s white, black and gold uniforms on Feb. 29 when the 21st -seeded Eagles lost to No. 12 Farmington, 69-58, in the Class L state tournament.
The significance was profound. The youngest of four sisters, Laura Dulin had concluded what could be best described as, “The Dulin Dynasty at Jonathan Law High School.”
For the past ten years, the girls basketball rosters at the Devon school have included a Dulin. From Jen (now 27 years old), through Marissa (25), Casey (23) and now Laura (18), there has never been a time when one of Bob and Lynn Dulin’s daughters hasn’t been there.
They’ve carried on a Milford tradition begun by their father, a two-time All-State player at Foran High (1973-76), who became the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,660 points. Dulin then went on to be a team captain at the University of Connecticut long before the Jim Calhoun-era, where he still holds the career free-throw percentage record for the Huskies as he converted over 90 per cent of his attempts.
That basketball acumen was passed down through his four daughters. Casey was an All-Stater in both volleyball and basketball and concluded her high school career by scoring more 1,400 points. She followed it up at Division I Marist College in Poughkeepie, N.Y.
Laura, also a 1,000-point scorer, will bring an era to an end very soon.
“It feels weird,” responded Laura to being the final Dulin. “For me, it’s hard to believe that these four years are over. Growing up in my family, it was all about basketball. We had the hoop in the yard and we always watched games on television.”
This year’s Law team has battled its way through injuries and took an 11-11 record into states.
“It was hard at times when we were without either Erin (Saley) or Jessica (Centore) in our line-up,” Laura said. “I felt some added pressure, but our younger players kept stepping up. It made a difference.”
Laura Dulin first touched a basketball as an infant and began playing organized basketball in the third grade. “There have always been influences for me,” she said. “My father taught me about keeping my composure and to not get distracted. He told me there would be tough times, but to keep my head up.
“Our neighbors have a sports court and when the weather is warm we still go there and have shooting contests. My dad can still make his shots.”
Laura was in middle school when Casey was tearing it up at Law. When she got to Marist, Laura was able to see her play.
“I’m only 5-foot-3,” Laura said. “Casey (5-foot-10) helped me with my defensive play. She taught me how to drive to the basket because that’s what she did very well. And like my dad, she worked with me on making foul shots.”
The youngest of the Dulin’s is still contemplating her future. She might attend college locally and has considered either Southern, Eastern or Western Connecticut State University. Leslie, a small school outside of Boston in nearby Cambridge, is also a consideration. She'd like to major in psychology.
Law head coach Dan Young, who coached her from her freshman year on, will feel the impact of her loss.
“Laura has always challenged her teammates to elevate their game,” said Young. “She has always raised the expectation level of our team. That’s what you want in a team, one that’s always looking to get better.”
Those natural instincts for the game found in her family’s genes, have made Laura a “heady” player.
“I’m always looking for open space when I play,” she said. “I keep an eye on my teammates. If I’m open, they usually find a way to get me the ball.”
Young has seen this too.
“Laura’s got a good shot along with a quick release,” he said. “She can also get to the basket. She’s got a deceptively fast first step, a good spin move and can cross over with the ball. Throw in the fact that she can make foul shots and that’s how she’s become our leading scorer.”
Her teammates see that as well.
“She has a mind-set to go to the basket,” said Saley. “She can score despite the fact that she’s only 5-3. I’m probably a head taller than she is.”
“All of us have a great relationship, and it’s come through basketball,” Centore said. “She’s a very good player who sees the floor well.”
Saley also see’s Laura’s other side.
“Off the court, she can be goofy,” Saley said. “She’s always relaxed and thinks that she’s a practical joker. Once a practice or game is about to begin, that all changes. Her game face comes on and the intensity level builds quickly. She may be a shorty, but on the court, she plays like a much taller person.”