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Norwalk Coach Hops for Hoops

If there's a basketball team in Norwalk, Ricky Fulton has probably coached on it. Or is coaching on it. Or will be coaching on it. Fuller's task this weekend is to try to win a championship in the Fairfield County Basketball League, where his sixth-grade girls play Wilton for the A Division championship in Ridgefield at 4:30 p.m.

"I'm pretty confident, but I'm not taking anything for granted,'' said Fulton, whose team takes a 20-7 record into the game. "We have to go out and play our best. This is what we've been working for."

Fulton has brought the best out of his young players in the five years he has been coaching. He coaches in the Norwalk Athletic Association house league, where he won a championship last winter. He also coaches boys. Travel or recreation league, boys or girls, Fulton loves coaching basketball.

"It's learning from them as much as they learn from me,'' says Fulton, who played basketball at Brien McMahon. "Each individual has their own talent. I like to have them all come up from 5 years old to the time they're in sixth grade. Now I see them playing in high school. I see them at McMahon, Norwalk, the Catholic schools. It's a beautiful thing to see them grow."

Fulton's team lost in the league's title game last year to St. Mary's of Ridgefield. This year's squad looks even better, as it went 10-1 in league play. A two-point setback to Darien was the only loss. It went 4-1 in a tournament last month in Great Barrington, Mass. Norwalk has defeated New Fairfield, 50-22, and Newtown, 46-41, to reach the championship. It faces a surprising Wilton team that went 5-7 in the regular season but has upset Darien and Bethel to reach the final.

"They're ready,'' Fulton said of his team. "This is like a three-year run for them. These girls have stepped up and done a real good job. They're learning and having a lot of fun."

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