NEWTON, NJ—The Newton High School girls basketball team is looking forward to a new season, with their head coach Whitney Dugan.  The longtime coach is returning after stepping down last year and taking a medical leave of absence.

Dugan battled Lacute lymphoblastic leukemia or AL last season but received a bone marrow transplant in November 2018. “I still scouted and checked in with the team when I could, but Lisa Casamassina was the head coach last year.”

Newton lost four key players due to graduation which included Kaitlyn Lynch, Jade Luciani, Maddie Leonardo and Davis Ann Boyd.

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According to Dugan, there are five returning players for this year: senior Olivia Buckley who plays point guard, senior Caroline Fox who plays forward, junior forward Amy Fehr, Junior Maddie Gore who plays guard and forward, and senior Jessie Brannick who plays guard.

Newcomers include Sophomores Taylor Squires- forward, Carly Mayhood-forward, Aubrey Carroll-guard and juniors Kassi VanHouten-guard and Luzmary Arias-guard.

“We lost four great seniors last year and it will take a lot of hard work and commitment to fill those position. We do have a core group coming back to play and we expect to be competitive in league and state play,” said Dugan.

This will be Dugan’s ninth year as head coach. Last years’ record was 24-5 under Casamassina and the overall record is 129-73.

"Last season, the girls made a magical run to the section finals. Even though they lost, they gained tremendous experience. The competitive games hopefully have aged some of our younger players," Dugan said.