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Prep Girls Basketball Insider: 'Run, STC' strategy challenges Bulldogs

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Sandy Bressner - sbressner@shawmedia.com)
St. Charles East's Katelyn Claussner (11) goes up for a basket during their home game against Batavia Tuesday night.

St. Charles North coach Sean Masoncup texted St. Charles East counterpart Lori Drumtra Saturday with a succinct message:

"I told her they tore a page from the North Star book," Masoncup said.

Masoncup had just learned of East's 53-48 upset win at Upstate Eight Conference River Division-leading Batavia, which absorbed its first league loss as the Saints played pesky box-and-one defense against Bulldogs star Liza Fruendt.

Late last month, North executed something very similar at Batavia in a close loss, with Ashling Davern preceding Saints guards MacKenzie Meadows and Kelly Rinker in the role of Fruendt's shadow.

Fruendt, a Missouri State recruit, still has averaged 20.5 points in her past two games against St. Charles schools. The opposition's edge under the boards in both contests, however, has been an equalizer.

North, above .500 for the first time this season, figures to cite the first Batavia game as a boost for whatever happens during the stretch run and Class 4A postseason. The team enters Thursday's rematch with the Bulldogs with wins in five of its past seven games.

"We're trying to build. The girls are buying in and I think we're flying on all cylinders going into playoff time," Masoncup said.

Loebel's long-term status 'question mark'

Geneva senior guard Michaela Loebel returned to the lineup for Friday's senior night game against Streamwood, her first action since suffering a knee injury against St. Charles East on Dec. 13.

Loebel, who missed most of her junior season with a torn ACL, started the game and played about eight minutes over a few waves. Whether she'll be able to provide a spark in the postseason, however, still is up in the air.

Vikings coach Sarah Meadows said that while doctors have not restricted Loebel from competing, it's still a "day-to-day trial" amid ongoing dialogue with her physical therapist.

"She feels really good. She doesn't have pain, she doesn't have swelling," Meadows said. "It's honestly just a big question mark."

Loebel has not practiced but wants to attempt drills.

Rockets pointing East

Burlington Central stretched its Big Northern Conference East winning streak to 21 games with Monday's comfortable victory at Genoa-Kingston.

Among the Rockets' seven conference wins this season, a 35-34 home victory against Rockford Christian remains the closest call.

BC had the ball with the score tied at 34-all when Sam Pryor corralled the rebound of a possible go-ahead shot in the closing seconds. Rockford Christian fouled Pryor just as time expires, sending her to the free throw line. She delivered the win moments later.

"It was a fortunate bounce for us," Central coach Mark Smith said.

Central was scheduled to host Marengo for its senior night Tuesday, an event that figures to go a little shorter than others in the region. Reserve guard Kathleen Ratzek is the Rockets' lone senior, but shares an important characteristic with 2013 Central graduate Camille Dela Cruz, who helped fuse a young team together for a 3A supersectional run last season.

"When things start going wrong," junior forward Alison Colby said, "you could always look to both of them. That's how they're similar."

IN THE GROOVE

Katie Claussner

St. Charles East, Jr., G

What she did: Helped steer Saturday's 53-48 road upset of Batavia with 22 points. "Katie's really playing well," Saints coach Lori Drumtra said.

Mia Mazza

St. Francis, Fr., G

What she did: Mazza scored 12 of her game-high 17 points in the second half and played solid defense in the Spartans' 1-2-2 zone, keying Saturday's 50-47 win against Aurora Christian.

WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK

We'll see Glenbard South later. St. Charles North will not reschedule its Jan. 28 nonconference home game against the Raiders, which was to be the Raiders' fourth appearance against a Chronicle-area team this season.

A former member of the since-dissolved Western Sun Conference that included Batavia, Geneva and Kaneland, Glenbard South opened the season with a 58-47 loss at Batavia before defeating Wheaton Academy by 21 in December and St. Francis by 31 last month.

WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD

Which teams finish where in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division race.

While Batavia suffered a hiccup in Saturday's loss to St. Charles East, the Bulldogs can become the first River champ not named Geneva by winning road games at St. Charles North (Thursday) and Streamwood (Saturday). Geneva would need Batavia to lose another conference game, then win out itself to force a tie.

Neuqua Valley took the Valley Division title with Monday's wild win at South Elgin, and will visit the River winner in the UEC championship crossover Feb. 15. All other crossovers will be played at River sites Feb. 14.

COACH SLY SAYS ...

The sting of losing on senior night can fester for awhile depending on the stakes and circumstances.

Luckily for Batavia's Erin Bayram and Liza Fruendt, Saturday's loss to St. Charles East wasn't the last the 'Dogs will see of their home digs.

Batavia hosts a UEC crossover next week, then plays host to a 4A regional the week after.

The memories don't have to end on a sour note.

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