There has not been as much excitement around the Norwalk girls basketball team since its heyday at the turn of the century.
The Bears are unbeaten and atop the GametimeCT top 10 Poll as the unanimous No. 1.
With the No.1 ranking and the unblemished record comes the pressure.
“We are feeling it but we have to know that it can be taken away from us at any moment,” Norwalk senior forward Naeva Rene said.
Whether the team finishes unbeaten or not, it is still on the cusp of returning the Bears to their former glory.
From 1997 through 2002, Norwalk appeared in five FCIAC finals, winning three-straight championships from 1999-2001.
In 1999 the Bears lost in the Class LL finals to NFA but came back the following season, beating NFA for the 2000 Class LL championship.
Norwalk has not won any championships since.
What set those championship teams apart and what Norwalk coach Ricky Fuller hopes his team has is the ability to take every opponent’s best shot.
“You have a target on your back all the time,” Norwalk coach Ricky Fuller said. “I told the girls, ‘everyone is coming for you now.’ It reminds me of the teams we had here in the late 90s and early 2000s. Every game, everyone is giving you their best. We need to be ready for anything.”
Fuller has been working with the team all year on playing with a lead and staying poised when the game is on the line.
“Sometimes we have to slow ourselves down,” Fuller said. “We need to understand the situation and put ourselves in a position to execute. That’s what we are really working on towards the end of the season. Execution under pressure.”
That execution under pressure was on display in the game that made them No. 1, a 49-47 win on the road at then No. 1 New London.
If the Bears are to bring home their first title of any kind, they will need to execute under pressure a few more times.
1,000 POINT CLUB
Jonathan Law senior Fallon Andriolas scored her 1,000th point in a 50-44 win against Career Magnet.