How Miami Country Day toppled No. 1 St. John's College at Nike Tournament of Champions

PHOENIX -- Miami Country Day coaches swore they would not let Azzi Fudd beat them in their matchup with No. 1 St. John's College (Washington, D.C.) on Day 2 at the Nike Tournament of Champions.

Turns out they prevented everyone else from doing it, too.

Miami Country Day upended St. John's College 44-41 Thursday night to advance to the semifinals of the Clare Droesch Division against New Hope Academy (Landover Hills, Maryland).

"We played an extended zone defense to slow them down, and we decided not to let Fudd beat us," Miami Country Day coach Ochiel Swaby said. "We knew [Fudd] was the best player in the country, so we wanted to tag her wherever she went."

Still, it was Fudd who sent St. John's to an early lead. The sophomore, ranked No. 1 in the espnW HoopGurlz Terrific 25 for the 2021 class, hit the first basket of the game and the last bucket of the quarter to give St. John's College a 13-6 lead.

In the second quarter, North Carolina signee Malu Tshitenge-Mutombo stepped up for St. John's -- she was a handful on the glass - and the No. 1 team led by five at halftime.

A back-and-forth third quarter set the stage for a tense fourth. Miami Country Day took the lead for good with 1:32 to play on a baseline drive through traffic by Vanderbilt signee Koi Love to make the score 40-39.

"This team has a lot of fight and we as a coaching staff wondered if they were ready for the moment or not," Swaby said. "Well, they were, and they put themselves in a position to win and did it."

Love had 14 points in the win, and freshman Sydney Shaw added eight.

Tshitenge-Mutombo finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds for St. John's, and Fudd added 12 points.

"I would consider this win tonight as probably one of the most important in school history," Swaby said. "[South Florida signee] Maria Alvarez made plays as did Koi Love. But so did others. It was a collective win for us."

Fresh face: From Kia Nurse, to Laeticia Amihere, there have been plenty of Canadian prospects making waves recently on the recruiting trail. Latasha Lattimore, a 6-4 sophomore post player at Crestwood Prep (Toronto), is next in line. Lattimore plays at the rim and has a combination of guard skills and interior finesse. She can clean the glass, bring the ball up the floor and knock down a jumper on the perimeter. But her value is most evident in the paint. Super active on the glass with a feathery touch in the key, Lattimore had 23 points Thursday in a 66-49 loss to Windward (Los Angeles). With superior length and wingspan, Lattimore is a difficult matchup for opponents. Big-time programs are lining up to make a pitch.

Archbishop Mitty update: Defending champion Archbishop Mitty is 0-2 in Phoenix, but it turns out it's one of the gutsiest 0-2 records you'll see. Four players, including No. 1 prospect Haley Jones, have been stricken with a flu-like illness since arriving in Phoenix, coach Sue Phillips said. Phillips said the players started feeling ill during a Wednesday loss to Southridge (Oregon), and four of them went to a local emergency room, where they received fluids and medication. All four have been released, Phillips said.

Semifinal showdown: Windward, ranked No. 4 in the espnW 25 Power Rankings, takes on Christ the King (Middle Village, New York) in Friday night's showcase game. Windward is led by point guard Charisma Osborne, who is headed to UCLA after this season. Christ the King, loaded with Division I talent, started the season 0-2 but has won four straight, including a 48-45 win over Southridge on Thursday.

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