After 28-0 season, Norwalk girls basketball is ranked No. 1 in final GameTimeCT poll

It was quite the memorable, dream season for Norwalk High School’s girls’ basketball team – an undefeated 28-0 record, FCIAC and state championships – and the inevitable did occur with the Bears being the unanimous choice as No. 1 in the Final 2018-19 GameTimeCT Girls Basketball Top 10 Poll.

Trinity Catholic was ranked seventh as the only other FCIAC team in that girls’ basketball poll, while Trumbull was the only conference school in the final boys’ basketball top 10 poll.

When Norwalk’s top-seeded Bears stepped onto the court to begin the fourth quarter of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Class LL Girls Basketball Tournament championship game they were facing an 11-point deficit to second-seeded New London. But those determined Bears rallied back to tie it up. Naeva Rene then sank the game-winning basket with 0:02 left in regulation to give Norwalk the 55-53 victory at Mohegan Sun Arena on March 16.

Coach Ricky Fuller’s Bears, who won five games in the state tournament, received all 20 first-place votes in the Final 2018-19 GameTimeCT Girls Basketball Top 10 Poll which was released March 20.

Norwalk previously won the FCIAC championship on Feb. 21 with a 32-29 victory over Trinity Catholic. Then the Bears put the capper on their dream season and in doing so matched the accomplishments of Norwalk’s last state championship team – the 1999-2000 Bears who were also unbeaten and the Class LL state champions when Fuller was an assistant coach with the program.

New London finished 25-3 and ranked second in the final poll while Class L state champion Hillhouse (24-4) was No. 3.

Hamden (24-3), which was eliminated in the Class L semifinals by Norwalk, 62-54, finished No. 4 and was followed by Class M champion Cromwell (25-3) and Notre Dame-Fairfield (23-3).

Trinity Catholic won the state Class S championship with a 52-45 victory in the final over Canton so coach Mike Walsh’s Crusaders finished with a 22-5 record and No. 7 in the final state poll. Iyanna Lops scored exactly half of their points against Canton as her 26 points were highest total of any player among all eight teams in all four state class championship games. She also snatched nine rebounds.

Windsor (24-3) was ranked eighth, state Class L runner-up Daniel Hand (14-12) was ninth and East Haven (20-6) completed the top 10.

Trumbull (19-4) received the 16th most points and was the only FCIAC team among the 11 statewide girls’ teams in the “Others receiving votes” category.

The East Catholic boys team, just like Norwalk’s girls team, received all 20 first-place votes and got the top ranking in the Final 2018-19 GameTimeCT Boys Basketball Top 10 Poll which was released March 19.

East Catholic finished 27-1 when it defeated Windsor, 79-74, in the championship game of the CIAC Division I Boys Basketball Tournament. Windsor (24-4) was ranked second.

Waterford won the Division II state title with a 63-56 victory over New Britain to finish with a 26-1 record and ranked third in the state poll.

Sacred Heart, which finished 23-2 with its 73-66 loss to Trumbull in the Division I quarterfinals, was No. 4.

Bassick (20-2) was ranked fifth and followed by Division III champion Farmington (23-4) and Immaculate (21-5).

Eighth-ranked Trumbull was the highest-ranked FCIAC team. Coach Buddy Bray’s 20-5 Eagles lost in the Division I semifinals to eventual champion East Catholic, 86-58.

New Britain (20-7) was ranked ninth and Notre Dame-West Haven (22-3) completed the top 10.

Because the CIAC now conducts five divisional boys state basketball tournaments, that enabled the scenario where a team could be a state champion and yet not even finish among the top 10 in the 1 in the Final 2018-19 GameTimeCT Boys Basketball Top 10 Poll.

That is precisely what happened to the New Canaan Rams of coach Danny Melzer, who received the 11th most points in the polling even though they finished 20-5 with their convincing 55-39 victory over Granby Memorial in the championship game of the CIAC Division IV Boys Basketball Tournament.

Also from the FCIAC, Ridgefield received the 19th most points in the polling and Wilton (18-6) the 23rd most as the conference had three of the 17 teams in the “Others receiving votes” category.

Innovation was the Division V state champion, it finished 24-2 and received the 14th most points in the polling.

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