Those are the dazzling shots Fudd made the past two years to twice earn All-Met Player of the Year. She just recently started connecting on them routinely again, and on Sunday, the junior led the No. 12 Cadets to a 54-44 win over No. 10 Sidwell Friends in the D.C. State Athletic Association Class AA championship.
“It just feels smoother,” said Fudd, who finished with a game-high 17 points, six rebounds and five assists. “I’ve never been worried about my knees, but I just feel a little bit more like my old self every game I come back.”
St. John’s (22-9) has won five consecutive DCSAA titles and six in the past seven years. After failing to win the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference for the first time in three years, St. John’s entered the DCSAA tournament with extra drive. The Cadets’ experience was too much for a young squad in Sidwell Friends (28-6).
St. John’s suffered an inconsistent start to the season, but as Fudd continued to regain her health and played more minutes, the Cadets improved. St. John’s Coach Jonathan Scribner saw his squad mesh for the first time in wins over O’Connell and McNamara in mid-February.
“It’s easy to lose at WCAC and just kind of be deflated for this,” Scribner said. “You always want to win your last game. That’s everybody’s goal, isn’t it?”
Fudd accepted the game’s MVP award, and as she walked back to the locker room, families stopped her to take pictures with their children.
Tim Fudd, Azzi’s father and an assistant coach for St. John’s, remembers when his daughter could hardly bend her right knee after surgery last spring. But even then, Azzi Fudd went to the gym, stood still near the basket and shot with her parents rebounding. While his daughter hasn’t regained her explosiveness, Tim Fudd believes she’s a better shooter.
Fudd said she feels 85 percent healthy and expects to be at full health next season. Fully healthy or not, Fudd reinforced she’s one of the area’s best players.
“She smiles; she’s having a good time out there,” Scribner said. “She wants to be out there. She’s the most unselfish player I’ve ever seen, with every reason to be selfish.”