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Fulton takes the plaudits after pulling strings in Star triumph

 

CJ Fulton gave the best performance of his fledgling Superleague career on Saturday night, driving Belfast Star to an 81-59 victory over Eanna.

Earlier in the season, Eanna had sent Star crashing out of the National Cup at the quarter-finals stage and at half-time in La Salle College they were threatening to end the Belfast side's All-Ireland title hopes too as they walked off leading 35-26.

But 17-year-old Fulton, who top scored on 27 points, kept the scoreboard ticking over and ran the plays for Star like a veteran point guard rather than someone in only his second season at this level. Allied to Fulton's poise and guile, American Delaney Blaylock sparked into life in the second period, finishing on 19 while Aidan Quinn contributed a critical 16 points.

Offensively Star were much more potent in the second half but equally the strength of Liam Pettigrew and Keelan Cairns also proved to be crucial to a stunning comeback in the third and fourth quarters.

But it was the performance of teenager Fulton that stole the show and while dad and coach Adrian is not one for throwing around plaudits like confetti, he accepted son CJ had given a superb display.

"CJ was very good, from start to finish he looked very fresh and right on it - the half-term break from school certainly seemed to help him recharge his batteries. I was very pleased with how he controlled the game," said dad Adrian, who was also keen to praise assistant coach Javan Dupree.

"We hadn't taken our chances in the first half but I just felt it was a case of being a little unfortunate so there was no shouting at half-time, it was a case of just making it clear that if we kept creating opportunities we would start converting them.

"It was also important that we made a change defensively and I have to give credit to JD for that - he liked the idea of going to a zone defence so we did and there's no doubt that Eanna struggled to deal with that."

The return of Conor Johnston after a fortnight also gave Star an added dimension from the bench, which Fulton also felt played a part in the fourth-quarter surge to victory, which keeps them three points behind Tralee with three games left.

Fulton added: "There's no doubt we missed Conor and he brought a lot of energy off the bench."

Belfast Telegraph