CJ masterclass helps send Star to the summit
CJ Fulton produced a memorable display against Eanna to leave Belfast Star joint top of the All Ireland Superleague with five other teams a third of the way through the season.
Few Superleague players have delivered such a clinical offering of scoring and play-making at such a young age as the 17-year-old who hit 27 points, just two behind top scorer American Ben Marello, whose outstanding form continues since joining three weeks ago.
While Marello stood tall and Liam Pettigrew sparkled in defence with his unrelenting tenacity, it was teenager Fulton who shone the brightest. Star coach and dad Adrian Fulton pointed to the influence of his assistant and club legend Javan Dupree as the inspiration for such a commanding performance.
Star came out on top 84-71, having led for most of the match against a side who are one of those teams sitting at the top of the tree on 15 points and it was all done without Irish professional Keelan Cairns, who failed to recover from a back injury.
While dad Adrian is never one for heaping praise on his son, he and everyone else knew they had witnessed a special performance from the St Malachy's A-level student.
"This was out first league win on the road so it was very important and overall this was our best performance of the season," said Fulton.
"Going into the game without Keelan was obviously a blow because he gives us size, is a smart player and his points were going to be missing as well. So the guys knew they had to step up and in regard to CJ, Javan has been on his case about what he can do offensively. He has encouraged him a lot and credit to CJ because he did have a very good game.
"It's not easy being up against two American guards but he handled himself very well and apart from the 27 points had some very good assists."
Just as CJ was sparkling in offence, dad Fulton was once again delighted with the defensive performances from Pettigrew and Dominic Lynn, while the experience of 30-year-old Conor Johnston also came to the fore.