BATAVIA – St. Charles North hounded Batavia throughout Friday’s Upstate Eight Conference River Division girls basketball game.
Junior guard Ashling Davern, arguably the most active North Star as she shadowed Batavia standout Liza Fruendt, suggested she’d kept some adrenaline in reserve had the game extended beyond regulation.
As it was, Davern did just about enough despite the result, a 63-57 Batavia win that marked the Bulldogs’ tightest margin of victory in eight league games.
Fruendt finished with a team-high 20 points for Batavia (16-6, 8-0 UEC River), but did so in the face of constant pressure.
“I was able to play as hard as I was because I knew that my teammates had my back and that they would be on my help-side the entire time,” Davern said. “And that’s probably the biggest thing. I’m so proud of how everyone played. Even though we came up short in the end, everyone gave it their all and we all played together, and I couldn’t be prouder of my team.”
North coach Sean Masoncup branded the team’s defense “The Special,” and called it a collection of a number of principles, albeit without naming them. One was visibly a diamond- or box-and-one.
After Fruendt crossed midcourt – usually with Davern on her hip pocket – another North Star or two encroached to force Fruendt into making a decision.
“We worked as hard as they did, if not harder,” Masoncup said. “That’s a talented team. They have a lot of weapons.”
North (10-11, 4-4) led as late as 49-44 with about 4:30 to play as junior forward Nichole Davidson (game-high 26 points) continued to assert herself inside. Morgan Rosencrants (12 points, 12 rebounds) provided an important secondary option.
Fruendt still was in single digits with just more than five minutes to play in the game, but helped turn the Bulldogs’ final deficit into a 50-49 lead with her speed in transition. She added two second-half 3s after a rough start from the field.
The Bulldogs also persevered behind their depth inside. Forwards Hannah Frazier (16 points) and Erin Bayram (15) scored efficiently down the stretch as Batavia improved its ball movement.
“We kind of weathered the storm,” Batavia coach Kevin Jensen said. “I told them there’s no magic play we needed to do to all of a sudden throw in. We have good basketball players. Let’s let our talent … let’s try and let that win us the game and do good basketball things. Skip, seal, drive, kick. You know, all of those things that we work on all the time.”
Fruendt collected three first-half fouls, a rarity in a brilliant recent stretch of scoring that included a career-high 51 points in a Jan. 17 win at Geneva. Referees whistled her third foul late in the second quarter amid a top-of-the-key scrum for a long rebound of a missed Fruendt 3-pointer.
Although consistent box-outs were a struggle in stretches, North challenged each loose ball, as the team continued adhering to Masoncup’s up-tempo brand of play.
Batavia missed sophomore guard Bethany Orman in that regard. Sidelined with a concussion, Orman was replaced in the starting lineup with freshman Mackenzie Foster, who helped spell Fruendt as a ballhandler at times.
Trailing by the final margin, North committed a turnover with 7.8 seconds left, prompting Masoncup to stop sending Batavia to the line. That strategy aside, the North Stars insist they aren’t done, long-term.
“We’re just going to keep going off of how well we played together and how hard we played and just keep going,” Davern said. “We have a game against Larkin [today], that we’re going to take it to them and that is just going to help us as we play Batavia again and we match up with Geneva again and eventually to regionals. So it’ll be great.”