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Batavia, Geneva girls basketball set for sectional final clash

Batavia girls basketball players have absorbed their share of program history this season, most recently when they earned the school’s first regional title since 1990 last week.

The Bulldogs figured to skip over any entries on 2008 in cramming for tonight’s IHSA Class 4A Addison Trail Sectional final against Geneva. Avoiding a repeat of that anguish definitely is advised.

Batavia swept Geneva during the regular season, winning, 59-51 and 75-68 in Upstate Eight Conference River Division play. Six seasons ago, the Bulldogs boasted three victories against the Vikings in as many tries before a regional semifinal loss.

“Quite frankly, we look at it and go, ‘If we’re going to go to another level, why not have it be against Geneva?’ ” Bulldogs coach Kevin Jensen said.

“They know what we’re going to do. We know what they’re going to do. We’ll be very familiar with one another. It’ll all come down to who can execute.”

The Vikings’ biggest adjustments hinge on defending Batavia senior guard Liza Fruendt, the UEC River Player of the Year who struck for a school-record 51 points in the teams’ second meeting this season.

Batavia encountered its share of gimmick defenses after that, and still does, with posts Erin Bayram (senior) and Hannah Frazier (sophomore) often serving as Fruendt’s running mates.

Jensen isn’t sure counterpart Sarah Meadows will want to compromise Geneva’s size in the frontcourt – including 6-foot-2 freshman Grace Loberg and juniors Janie McCloughan (5-10) and Abby Novak (6-0). Senior guard Michaela Loebel’s return from a knee injury gives Geneva another player to run at Fruendt, a Missouri State recruit.

“Whether they’re in man or zone, they’re going to have someone up in her face and being physical the whole time,” Jensen said. “Liza is used to that. … The curious part will be what will they do with everybody else.”

Geneva offers the most complete version of itself yet. Loberg, just a few games into her midseason call-up during the second meeting, is fully acclimated to the plays and lineup.

Loberg has averaged 16 points in two postseason games. She missed Geneva’s Wheaton North Regional semifinal against Glenbard West with an ankle injury suffered during club volleyball play.

Also a top outside hitter, Loberg helped the Geneva volleyball team to a 4A regional title at Addison Trail in the fall en route to the program’s first sectional crown.

“I’ve known her since I was, like, four years old,” said McCloughan, who is classmates with Loberg’s older brother, Matt. “And she’s just such a great player that it’s really cool to share this with her.”

Fans and student sections from both sides are sure to do their part to make tonight memorable, too. As far as history goes, it’s an unprecedented entry in the rivalry.

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