NORWALK 55 NEW LONDON 53! Norwalk girls basketball team beats New London at the buzzer to become the state champions!

Photo: Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media.

Photo: Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media.

In the closing seconds of the championship game at Mohegan Sun yesterday, they were tied at 53. Naeva Rene for the Norwalk Bears put the ball up and in. New London couldn’t get a shot off at the buzzer. Bears won 55 to 53.

See the Gametime article and more images here.

This game had drama right from the beginning. With just eight minutes left on the clock in this CIAC Class LL championship game, the No. 1 Bears were down 11 points heading into the fourth quarter to No. 2 New London. Rather that folding, Norwalk’s girls triumphed! New London built the lead up to as much as 13 points by the second quarter, leading 33-24 at halftime, but Norwalk outscored New London 19-6 in the final eight minutes of the championship game.

The Norwalk Bears girls basketball team beat New London 49-47 earlier this season. The Norwalk girls won their third state championship this past Saturday at Mohegan Sun, the first since completing an unbeaten season in 2000!

Watch this very intense 9-minute video to see the game’s highlights!

There are many reasons why the Carver community is so proud of the girls basketball team this year. The Norwalk coach is Ricky Fuller, a Carver advocate whose father was Carver’s longtime Executive Director. Here is a recent interview Ricky gave News 12 CT about the Bears’ winning season this year. Evan Kelley, a Carver alumnus who became a standout player for Sacred Heart University’s basketball team, is the Bears assistant coach.

The Bears off-season coach is Carver’s Recreation Coordinator, Shannon Singleton-Bates, who also manages Carver’s Basketball Programming. Shannon has worked with the winning Bears girls team since each of their freshman years. The girls spend the off season in the Carver gym preparing for regular season. The average GPA of the girls Bears team this year is 3.4. The three seniors on the team are on their way to college.

Shannon is herself a past Bears star who also played for coach Rick Fuller. Shannon was the 2006 and 2007 Player of Year; she played in the Connecticut All-Star game; she was a 2-time first-team All-State player and 3-time All-Conference. She went on to play at Francis Marion College in Florence, South Carolina. Shannon received a four-year basketball scholarship to the college and received All-America recognition for three consecutive years. After graduating in 2012 with a degree in sociology, Shannon returned home and to Carver where she serves as a mentor and role model for the next generation.

Bears team members also participate in Carver’s special after school program for athletes that Shannon manages. The longtime Carver sponsor, the Fairfield County Sports Commission, led by Tom Chiappetta, funds this program. The program’s Career Coach is Eve St. Surin, a Carver alumnae who graduated from Bridgeport University.

Here is what Shannon said about this victory won by the hard working and talented girls she coaches and mentors: “I’m so proud of the fight they gave. We made history yesterday and they deserve every bit of it. Our motto this year was DREAM BIG, every single one of them had the same goal of winning FCIAC, and they did it!!!”

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Shannon’s after school program sponsored by the Fairfield County Sports Commission, which also sponsors the Chelsea Cohen Fitness Academy at Carver, serves up to 25 female athletes ages 13-18 from Norwalk Public Schools. Activities range from fitness and strength training to discussions about injury prevention and college sports scholarships, yoga and Zumba, to nutrition coaching and preparing meals together, as well as guest presentations from college-level athletes, coaches and scouts. The Girls’ Development Program offers a supportive environment that celebrates teamwork, leadership and personal goals. Students learn the importance of balancing academics with a competitive mindset during the week and weekends after games and or practices. The student-athletes learn the value of teamwork while learning about and building self-esteem, nutrition, wellness, and self-confidence. The program instills lifelong lessons in Norwalk students through sports and fitness. Students embrace the program’s vision to be committed to excellence in sports as well as in academics.

The Bears girls achieved so very much this year for their team, for the Carver community, and for all of Norwalk!