Countless times over the past two years, the area’s most dominant player has sealed a win for the Cadets with a timely play or a clutch shot. But this game, like this season, was a bit different.
It concluded with a dogpile of O’Connell players near the scorer’s table after the No. 7 Knights came back to earn a 52-51 win on Jada Brown’s last-second three-pointer.
“I just knew I had to put the ball in the basket,” said Brown, a junior guard. “Had to do what I could.”
Brown was the star of the night — a departure from most games featuring St. John’s. It was the first time any player on O’Connell’s roster had beaten No. 11 St. John’s (9-4, 4-1), which has won the past three WCAC championships.
“We just made history,” said senior guard Maikya Simmons, who led the Knights (12-3, 4-3) with 16 points.
It had been a while since Fudd found herself in a tight conference game. The two-time All-Met Player of the Year returned to the court last week, a little over eight months after she tore her right ACL and medial collateral ligament in April. She has returned to a Cadets team and a WCAC landscape that might feel unfamiliar.
Those Cadets championship teams relied on experience, something this year’s squad does not possess. St. John’s lost three starters to graduation and deemed this season a rebuild even before Fudd was injured. In her absence, the young Cadets got off to a solid start but nothing resembling the dominant campaigns of the recent past.
“[The WCAC] is hard because no team is dominant,” Fudd said. “More than ever you have to be ready for every game.”
After scoring 21 points Saturday in her fourth game back, Fudd said she does not yet feel like herself on the court. She has been on a minutes restriction and is hoping it will help her gradually return to 100 percent.
“Some days I feel more explosive than others,” she said. “It’s a process.”
With O’Connell, Elizabeth Seton and McNamara looking strong, Fudd knows this year will present new challenges. In years past, she had created a list of individual objectives before the season. This year, as she worked her way back, she didn’t. Her only goal was to get back on the court.
“Of course I hate losing. I want to win,” Fudd said. “But mostly I just want to help this team. I want to be out there and help strengthen this team.”
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