NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk High School’s Emma Oyomba worked every day to improve her versatility on the basketball court. The results are evident this winter as she has become the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s most valuable player.
Oyomba was selected as The Norwalk Daily Voice Athlete of the Month after scoring double-digits points and rebounds in nearly every one of the team’s eight games last month. Among her top games were a 26-point, 21-rebound effort in a win over Bassick and a 20-point, 16-rebound night against Ridgefield.
“I think I’m a lot more versatile this year,’’ said Oyomba, a 6-foot, 1-inch center whose repertoire before this year consisted mostly of stickbacks and low-post moves. “I feel a lot more comfortable taking it to the basket or shooting a jump shot. I’ll even take a three-pointer once in a while if coach (Rick) Fuller will let me. Once you feel more comfortable, the shots start going in.”
She played for an AAU team in the summer to polish her skills. Working with Foran coach Scott Nails and former Norwalk High coach Fred English with her AAU team, Oyomba improved all aspects of her game.
“I think it definitely helped me with my rebounding, my ballhandling got a lot better, even my foul shooting,’’ she said.
For all of her individual success, however, the Bears’ season has been a disappointment. They are 3-14 overall and 2-13 in the league. Oyomba was a key player on Norwalk’s team that went 16-7 last year, reached the league playoffs and won its opening game in the Class LL tournament. With heavy graduation losses, injuries and other issues, the falloff has been dramatic.
Oyomba has been an on-court and off-court leader for the Bears, bringing the younger girls along as the season progresses.
“It was pretty tough at first,’’ she said. “I felt like I was repeating myself, and it was falling on deaf ears at first. There was so much pressure on them. But the younger players have gotten a lot better, they’ve come a long way. I wish I had another year to play with them.”
Oyomba's basketball career figures to come to an end this month. She hopes to attend Wesleyan University, where she plans to play lacrosse. Her brother, Cyprian, graduated from Wesleyan last year. Oyomba started playing basketball in fifth grade at All Saints Catholic School. “My friends told me that I was tall, so that I should go out for the team,’’ she said.
The four-year ride with the Bears has been worth it, she said. The team won 29 games over her sophomore and junior seasons, reached the league and state playoffs, and she has developed into one of the league’s best players.
“I think my career has been everything I’ve wanted it to be,’’ Oyomba said. “I didn’t think I’d progress as much as I did. I used to be scared to hurt people when I was rebounding or blocking a shot. I feel like I know the game a lot better. It has been a long journey.”