Norwalk tops Stamford for division title
What's going to be your legacy?
That's one of the questions that Norwalk High School girls basketball coach Ricky Fuller has posed to his seniors.
Tuesday evening, the Bears crossed one of their goals off the to-do list when they wrapped up their first FCIAC Central Division title since 2000 with a gritty 41-36 victory over Stamford.
It was the fourth straight win for Norwalk (12-5), which is peaking at just the right time with the league tournament just 10 days away.
"I like to say that any win in the FCIAC is a big win," said Fuller, his eyes then shifting toward the banner commemorating Norwalk's division championships over the years. "This was big for us. It had been a while, and when we talk to the girls about leaving behind a little legacy, this is part of it."
Senior Emma Oyomba had another impressive all-around game, finishing with 17 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks and the Bears also got a spark from sophomore super sub Erica Cohens, who scored all 16 of her points in the second half as Norwalk outscored Stamford 23-14 over the final 12 minutes.
"Erica was a starter last year (at Kolbe Cathedral) and she really could be for us," Fuller said. "But she was respectful of the older players and really gives us a lift in her role coming off the bench."
The teams entered Tuesday's showdown at 9-5 in the league -- and in a three-way tie for sixth place in the FCIAC standings.
So what figured to be a highly competitive game was exactly that. There were seven lead changes and three ties.
Senior point guard Kelsey Cognetta led the Black Knights (9-8) with 14 points -- most of her production coming at the foul line. Sophomore Kelsey Santagata added 10 points and Jasmin Barrett had eight.
Cohens, who also had three steals, connected on the go-ahead 3-pointer with 5:15 remaining and later sealed the win with a lay-up with 20 seconds left.
Norwalk's stingy defense held Stamford to just two field goals in the final five minutes, and did a solid job on the play-making Cognetta.
"(Cognetta) is a killer with the ball," Fuller said. "Zayna Fulton did a nice job on her, and Briana Ruffin and Erica really helped out too. I do know what we'll be working on practice tomorrow though, and that's free throws."
The Bears missed four foul shots in the final minute trying to extend their lead, but in the end, one of their best defensive efforts of the season was enough to make sure one of the banners in the gym will soon be updated.
"Both teams came in with the same record (in the league) and it came down to defense," Oyomba said. "I think we outhustled them. Erica wasn't feeling well before the game, but did a great job. It feels really good to achieve one of our goals and win the division."
Katie Schmidt had six points and three steals for Norwalk in the victory.