ST. CHARLES – A young Batavia girls basketball fan meekly voiced a polite request for unwitting senior guard Liza Fruendt midway through Tuesday’s fourth quarter.
“Could you please try to dunk it next time, Liza?” the little boy said.
Fruendt had just streaked from one end of the floor to the other with a breakaway layup, scoring her 29th and 30th points of the night and the 1,602nd and 1,603rd of her career – extending a program record she set against St. Charles East.
Fruendt joked about working the dunk into her repertoire shortly after a 63-41 Upstate Eight Conference River Division victory against the Saints. The truth is, she has ascended past Katie Issel to become the program’s all-time leading scorer in large part because of what preceded the layup, her final action of the night.
“I’m being able to pick off passes more, and that leads to transition, which leads to more buckets. It just makes the flow of the game really easy,” Fruendt said. “Sometimes, when scoring 30, I’m like, ‘How did I do that?’ you know. You don’t really remember, because it’s just transition. Getting up and down. Those easy buckets.”
Batavia (13-5, 5-0 UEC River) remained atop the conference standings behind harrassing pressure defense against East (9-10, 3-3), which was without senior point guard Amanda Hilton (knee) for the second straight game.
Saints coach Lori Drumtra said the team expects to learn of Hilton’s long-term prognosis today.
“If she comes back, of course, that’s wonderful news. If she has to sit out a little bit longer, we kind of have to figure it out,” Drumtra said. “And we will. Katie Claussner, she’s played the point before, but it’s been awhile, and so to kind of throw her into a game like this is kind of tough.”
The Bulldogs hope to maintain their intensity when they visit Geneva on Friday. Batavia earned its first victory against the Vikings in nearly six seasons in early December.
“This week, we have to have two good practices going into that game,” Batavia senior forward Erin Bayram said. “I think our main thing is just going to be focus and effort. If we have those two things, I don’t think that they can stop us.”
Fruendt wasted little time in what proved her final pursuit of Issel (1,593 career points), letting fly from 3-point range moments after Bayram – her best friend who said Fruendt “deserves this more than anyone” – corralled the opening tip.
Fruendt clapped her hands for the ball on several early possessions en route to a 1 for 4 start from the field, but coach Kevin Jensen worked to keep things light. Before Fruendt even broke into the scoring column, sophomore Bethany Orman banked in a 3 from the right wing 1:23 into the game.
“You didn’t call that!” Jensen yelled from the bench.
By the time she got going, you could sense Fruendt almost willing a few of her shots in the basket.
There she was, drilling a 3 from the top of the key moments after East drew to within five points midway through the second quarter. About two minutes later, Fruendt scored five points in a short span, hitting a 3 before stealing the ball from Claussner and racing to the other end of the floor for a layup.
Fruendt matched Issel with 20 points at halftime, then secured the record for herself with a left-handed layup with 2:48 to play in the third quarter. Jensen immediately called timeout.
“You want to enjoy the moment, but you also want it to be kind of over,” Fruendt said. “So I could just enjoy the rest of the game. I don’t have to think about it. But it’s a cool thing, you know. It doesn’t happen that often.”
Batavia’s deep attack, including Bayram (14 points) and sophomore forward Hannah Frazier (12), kept the Saints honest against Fruendt defensively.
East countered with 11 points from Kyra Washington and eight apiece from Chloe John, MacKenzie Meadows and Hannah Nowling.
Drumtra lamented the Saints’ overall offensive struggles, which included a 3 for 9 effort from in the field in the third quarter. In addition to Fruendt, those added up as Batavia pulled away.