MIDDLE VILLAGE, N.Y. – From face-guarding to the box-and-one, St. John’s High School (Washington, D.C.) shooting guard Azzi Fudd has seen every defensive strategy imaginable this season.
That hasn’t stopped the ALL-USA Player of the Year from torching opponents to the tune of 26.3 points a game.
That trend continued Friday at GEICO High School Nationals in the Cadets’, ranked No. 2 in the USA Today Super 25, semifinal matchup with No. 4 Centennial High School (Las Vegas), Fudd scored 27 points, including two game-winning free throws, to lead the Cadets past the Bulldogs 63-61.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Azzi Fudd, St. John’s
Alex Cowan added 18 points for the Cadets, Eboni Walker led the Bulldogs with 18 points.
“I’m just glad we won,” Fudd said. “It was a little sloppy, but I think we played well.”
Fudd caught fire early, scoring 11 points in the first quarter to help the Cadets build a 20-14 lead.
Bulldogs guard Taylor Bigby hounded Fudd defensively and held her without a field goal in the second quarter; that helped Centennial claim a 35-31 lead at halftime.
“We got killed on the boards in the first half,” St. John’s coach Jonathan Scribner said. “After that it came down to the little things.”
Fudd didn’t score again until the 2:03 mark of the third quarter when she tied the game at 43 on a mid-range jump shot then Cowan’s three-pointer gave the Cadets the lead 46-43 lead.
The Bulldogs reclaimed the lead, 61-59, on Daejah Phillips’ three-point play, but Fudd tied it up on a short pull-up with 43 seconds left.
After Fudd sunk two free throws, the Bulldogs go-ahead three-pointer rimmed out.
“I was hanging my head a little when I wasn’t scoring but my teammates were encouraging me throughout the game,” Fudd said. “I feel like when I have the ball in my hands I’m gonna make a good play, whether it’s passing or taking a good shot. I’m pretty confident in that.”
The Cadets will face No. 8 New Hope Academy (Landover Hills, Md.) Friday at 10 a.m. (ESPN2) for the GEICO Nationals title.
The final Super 25 Girls Basketball Rankings will be released on April 8.
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY