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Druley: Batavia-Geneva girls game won't be second fiddle

An undercard this isn’t.

While today’s Geneva-Batavia girls basketball game may open the hers-and-his doubleheader at Geneva, fans would be wise to treat the 5:45 p.m. tipoff as if it were primetime.

The Bulldogs enter play with a 5-0 Upstate Eight Conference River Division record, while the three-time defending league champion Vikings are 4-1 and eager to vault closer to the front of the race.

“I think that it’s going to be a blast, because I think both of us are playing really well right now,” Bulldogs coach Kevin Jensen said. “They seem to have it clicking. Even coming out of Christmas with the losses, I feel like we’re playing well.”

Four of Batavia’s five conference victories have come by at least 20 points, with the only true close call coming in a 59-51 home win against Geneva in December.

Since that loss to open conference play, Geneva has defeated River foes by 22, 13, 27 and 18 points. The Vikings remember what went wrong against Batavia and are poised not to repeat it in front of a home crowd.

“We just didn’t jell as a team. Our passes were kind of off and we didn’t come out ready to play, which is a key for us,” Geneva junior forward Janie McCloughan said. “When we come out and we’re ready to play, then we usually really excel throughout the game. We just didn’t come completely focused, and that was a big issue for us.”

Vikings freshman center Grace Loberg was a notable absentee from the first Batavia-Geneva game. She hadn’t been promoted yet from the lower levels. Geneva coach Sarah Meadows opted for a bigger lineup after point guard Michaela Loebel, sidelined for most of last season with a torn ACL, experienced recurring knee problems that have put her senior season in peril.

No Geneva starter stands shorter than 5-foot-11.

Batavia’s frontcourt counters with veterans Erin Bayram (senior) and Hannah Frazier (sophomore), who combined for 26 points in Tuesday’s victory at St. Charles East. Senior point guard Liza Fruendt led the way with 30, becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer in the process.

“It’s awesome. It’s such an accomplishment. She deserves it more than anyone on this team,” Bayram said. “She’s worked so hard, and she was even saying to us, ‘[Tuesday] isn’t about me, it’s about our team.’ If it wasn’t for everyone around her, she said she wouldn’t be able to do it, so that means a lot.”

Had she fallen short of 20 points against the Saints, Fruendt would have been in position to reach the milestone tonight. As it stands, there remains plenty of drama set to unfold in the first half of the doubleheader.

Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.

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