Wooldridge, Fremd knock off Geneva for Morton crown

  • Fremd's Brianna Wooldridge (24) comes up with a take-away from Geneva's Lauren Slagle (33) in the first quarter of Thursday's championship game at Morton College in Cicero.

    Fremd's Brianna Wooldridge (24) comes up with a take-away from Geneva's Lauren Slagle (33) in the first quarter of Thursday's championship game at Morton College in Cicero. David Toney/for Shaw Media

  • Fremd's Anna Schmitt (13) passes the ball in the first quarter while being defended by Geneva's Caroline Madden (20) during the championship game at Morton College in Cicero.

    Fremd's Anna Schmitt (13) passes the ball in the first quarter while being defended by Geneva's Caroline Madden (20) during the championship game at Morton College in Cicero. David Toney/for Shaw Media

  • Geneva's Zosia Wrobel (12) makes a 3-pointer while taking on Fremd in the first quarter of the championship game at Morton College in Cicero.

    Geneva's Zosia Wrobel (12) makes a 3-pointer while taking on Fremd in the first quarter of the championship game at Morton College in Cicero. David Toney/for Shaw Media

  • Geneva's Lauren Slagle (33) makes a basket in the first quarter Thursday while taking on Fremd during the championship game at Morton College in Cicero.

    Geneva's Lauren Slagle (33) makes a basket in the first quarter Thursday while taking on Fremd during the championship game at Morton College in Cicero. David Toney/for Shaw Media

  • Fremd's Maddy Fay (32) makes a basket while getting fouled by Geneva's Lauren Slagle (33) in the first quarter Thursday during the championship game at Morton College in Cicero.

    Fremd's Maddy Fay (32) makes a basket while getting fouled by Geneva's Lauren Slagle (33) in the first quarter Thursday during the championship game at Morton College in Cicero. David Toney/for Shaw Media

  • Geneva's Kinsey Gracey (24) goes up for a shot during the first quarter Thursday while being defended by Fremd's Jill Sheehan (11) during the championship game at Morton College in Cicero.

    Geneva's Kinsey Gracey (24) goes up for a shot during the first quarter Thursday while being defended by Fremd's Jill Sheehan (11) during the championship game at Morton College in Cicero. David Toney/for Shaw Media

 
By Bobby Narang
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/30/2021 10:52 PM

Brianna Wooldridge is officially back.

Three years ago, in her freshman season, Wooldridge established herself as one of the emerging players in the state.

 

Since then, the Fremd senior forward has traveled a zigzag route to her senior season. She transferred to Lincoln-Way West for her sophomore season, missing a chance to be a part of Fremd's Class 4A state title, though she helped lead the Warriors to a runner-up finish.

After transferring back to Fremd, Wooldridge suffered a serious knee injury against Barrington in her junior season. The injury forced Wooldridge to sit out the first six weeks of her senior season.

In Wednesday's semifinal win over Marist, Wooldridge said she's nearly back to her old self but needed "a second" to get back. The IUPUI recruit gave Geneva a refresher course on Thursday how she can impact a game with her diverse skill and powerful skill set.

Wooldridge scored a game-high 23 points to go along with 5 rebounds and 3 assists to power a second-half surge that led Fremd to an improbable 46-40 win over Geneva in the championship game of the inaugural Morton College Girls Basketball Christmas Tournament.

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Wooldridge helped Fremd (14-4) turn a surefire defeat -- 13-point deficit early in the third quarter against a sizzling Geneva team -- into a victory on coach Dave Yates' birthday.

"I'm very happy that I was able to come out and play like I did, but I give it all to Yates for pushing me," Wooldridge said. "I hadn't been playing my best in this tournament, so I'm happy when some other players weren't playing their best in this game that I was the one who came back."

On a floor with numerous talented players, the 6-foot-2 Wooldridge was the X-factor. Her toughness, steely determination and will to win guided Fremd back from a double-digit deficit. She scored 7 points in the third quarter and added 8 in the fourth, while shooting 11-for-11 from the free-throw line.

After the victory, Wooldridge kept on delivering surprises, grabbing a tray of miniature cupcakes to hand out to her teammates in the locker room.

"It feels great to play well, especially in front of college coaches and Yates," Wooldridge said. "It was great to get that birthday 'W' for coach."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Kace Urlacher was a key element of the comeback, scoring 9 points, all in the second half. She scored on a drive and subsequent free throw to hand Fremd a 42-40 lead with 4:37 left.

Yates said Wooldridge is a seasoned veteran who sparked the comeback.

"It was a great time for (Brianna) to get back," Yates said. "We needed somebody to change things up. She gave us that steadiness in the first half to survive it and to take over the game in the second half. I challenged the them at halftime. I felt our kids played well. This is a marathon, playing four days in a row against good teams. We clawed out a win. I'm super proud of my kids for being tough. They gutted through it to win."

Fremd bounced back from its jittery start, which included just 5 points in the first five minutes. The slugfest of recent state champions looked to be all Geneva (11-4) in the first half until Fremd's defense limited them to 11 second-half points.

Geneva guard Leah Palmer finished with 11 points and Zosia Wrobel tallied 8 in the loss.

"The second half (Wooldridge) came out and did a nice job and took over," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. "We probably should've made an adjustment on her sooner, but I'm proud of our kids. They battled for four straight days. We'll be fine. Our kids are young, so this is a great opportunity for our kids to learn and mature as a team."

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