BATAVIA – While the Batavia girls basketball team will lean on plenty of young players this season, that doesn’t mean experience has gone completely out the window.
In what she called her “last first high school basketball game” Tuesday night, Batavia senior Liza Fruendt came up with the biggest baskets at the biggest times in the Bulldogs’ 58-47, season-opening win over Glenbard South.
“It was good,” Fruendt said after scoring 20 points in the win. “We’re a young team. You could tell we had our lows, we had our highs. We just played a really good defensive game, and I think that’s going to be our key all year. When we play our best defense, we’ll play our best basketball.”
After a close game much of the early going between the Bulldogs and Raiders, Fruendt exploded for nine points in the second quarter to give Batavia a 30-18 halftime lead. Then, after going scoreless in the third, she delivered nine more points in the fourth quarter to make sure the Bulldogs kept that lead.
“We’re never going to mistake her for somebody who’s going to be methodical on the court. It’s always going to be a speed thing with her,” Batavia coach Kevin Jensen said. “She was just saying, ‘Was my shooting percentage awful?’ And I went, ‘Well, yeah it wasn’t great. But there was a lot of shots going to the hoop, and when we needed a couple buckets to finish the game off, you got them for us.’ There’s something to be said about when those buckets happen, and that was big for us as well.”
Trailing by double digits nearly the entire second half, Glenbard South cut the Batavia lead to five with just more than 2:30 remaining in the game. Shortly thereafter, Fruendt caught fire and made sure the Raiders wouldn’t get any closer. She stole the ball, scored a fast-break layup and made the ensuing free throw to extend Batavia’s lead to seven with 1:30 left. With the game entering its final minute, she delivered back-to-back fast break layups to push the game out of reach.
“I would have liked to be a little more consistent, but this was first-game jitters,” the Missouri State recruit said. “This was my last, first high school basketball game. It was a little bit emotional, so you do get the jitters. You’re like constantly, ‘Oh my gosh.’ And once we finally got settled down and could just play, it was all worked out. But consistency, I would liked it a little more. It was good. When I needed to play my best defense and convert to offense, I did, so that was important.”
The youth movement for Batavia also showed some flashes of brilliance. Sophomore Hannah Frazier finished with 16 points, and freshman Mackenzie Foster had several big plays and saw plenty of time on the floor.
“It’s incredible,” Fruendt said of her young teammates. “They are getting better every single day. … They’re not acting like they’re underclassmen, they’re acting like they are upperclassmen and they belong on the floor during varsity basketball games.”