Maine West’s Dugalic ready for Olympic run with Serbia

Just one year after graduating as the Daily Herald’s Cook County All-Area girls basketball captain, Angela Dugalic found herself as a teenager playing for Serbia's women's basketball team in the 2021 Olympics held in Tokyo.

The Maine West High School graduate now gets a second chance to represent her parents' country, this time playing in the Paris Olympics beginning July 26.

“Just to see one of your players playing on the international stage is just incredible,” said Kim deMarigny, Dugalic's former Maine West girls basketball coach. “She is such a hard worker and the things that she does are the things that set her apart. She is willing to do the hard things and to work hard to get to where she is.”

Dugalic is coming off a solid first year at UCLA, where she transferred after a season at Oregon State.

She has been a big part of the Bruins’ roster, averaged 9 points and 6.6 rebounds this past season.

She had 4 points with 8 rebounds in the Sweet 16 loss, along with 9 points and 7 rebounds in an early-round win over California Baptist.

Dugalic will be a key returner for UCLA this winter but first she gets to experience another Olympics with her Serbian team.

Serbia's Angela Dugalic, left, and the United States' Tina Charles chase a loose ball during the women's basketball semifinal game at the Summer Olympics in Japan. AP

Serbia did not make its Olympics debut until the 2016 games at Rio when the team earned a bronze medal.

In Dugalic's first season with the team, Serbia almost repeated the feat in Tokyo but missed out and placed fourth after a semifinal loss to the United States.

Dugalic accomplished a lot at Maine West.

While becoming the program's second all-time leading scorer with more than 1,700 points — behind Brittany Collins’ 2,055 points — and setting several program records, she helped lead the Warriors (35-0) to a Class 4A state title in 2019, a third-place finish in 2018 and two supersectional appearances.

It was not a surprise to deMarigny, who now coaches at Pope John Paul ll High School in Tennessee.

“When I first saw her, there was always something special about Angela because she did things differently,” deMarigny said. “She worked differently. She acted more like a guard even with her height (6-foot-3) and she continued to grow. So we always thought there was going to be something special going on with her for sure.”

Dugalic received strong support from her parents, who were standout athletes themselves in Serbia where they grew up.

“She has a great family which supports her in everything does,” deMarigny said. “Her mom and dad always encouraged her to be the best athlete she can be,

And that athleticism hardly went unnoticed.

“The girl could block a shot,” deMarigny said. “Then she'd save it inbounds and send it down the floor to her teammate for a layup at the other end of the floor. Or she would get a steal and go down and outrun everyone down the court and do a Euro (basketball move in which an offensive player picks up their dribble, takes a step in one direction, and then quickly takes a second step in another direction), finish a layup.

“At 6-3, girls are typically not performing that particular guard move. Sometimes Angela would get a steal and I would say 'pass the ball, pass the ball.’ But then she did that Euro move and then I'd go 'oh, nice job Angela’ and be glad she didn't pass it when she scored. Angela was just that talented.”

That talent had her playing for the Serbian national team while still in high school.

“Angela never really participated with us much in the summer months because she was always training with her national team,” said deMarigny, who was 121-9 from 2016-21 at Maine West. “We were always like 'Where is Angela this month, Serbia, Germany?' So it's been very exciting to be able to watch her through the years. ”

deMarigny could not be more proud of her former standout.

“And we wish nothing but the best for her and her family as she continues with this trek to the Olympics,” she said. “It would be nice to see her hopefully make the WNBA if that's what her goals and aspirations are. The world is really her oyster. Angela has so much talent, work ethic and drive. Whatever she is looking for and pretty much what she sets her mind to, she'll be able to accomplish.”

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.