Marian Catholic too much for Batavia to handle

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After hearing the celebration down the hall when Fremd knocked off defending Class 4A state champion Marian Catholic Saturday, the Spartans learned the hard way that every team in the state is gunning for them.

Marian took on the latest challenger Wednesday at the Oswego Hoops for the Troops Holiday Classic — Batavia — and the Spartans responded with a 64-45 win.

“I think (the Fremd celebration) might have finally clicked with what we’ve been trying to say to them,” Marian coach Dan Murray said. “Everybody is going to be up for us, and we have to be prepared every single night. I thought we did a nice job of rising to the occasion tonight.”

The win puts Marian (8-2) in Saturday’s 3 p.m. championship game against Neuqua Valley. Batavia (9-2) will take on Rich South in the third-place game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Batavia hung around early thanks to the hot shooting of senior Liza Fruendt. She drilled four three-pointers and scored 14 of her team-high 19 points as the Bulldogs trailed 23-19 early in the second quarter. But Marian managed to slow her down the rest of the game and Batavia never threatened in the second half.

“I thought we did a really good job of making it difficult on her,” Murray said. “She’s an outstanding player. Obviously we wanted to try to force the ball out of her hands. We know she makes a lot of their decisions, so we were trying to force some of their other kids to make decisions out on the floor.”

Batavia had a hard time slowing down Marian’s big three of Kauai Bradley, DePaul-bound Ashton Millender and point guard Teniya Page. Millender led all scorers with 22 points, Bradley had 12 points and 12 rebounds and Page scored 20 points to go with her 10 assists. The trio combined to shoot 26-of-47 from the field.

“That was exactly what I was looking forward to when I saw that (Oswego coach Chad Pohlmann) added them to the tournament,” Batavia coach Kevin Jensen said. “That’s an aiming point for us, a team like that. As good as they are, there are things we can do, if we’re doing them right, against them. There’s just very little room for error when they’re hitting their shots. They are very talented.”

Fruendt was held below her season average with her 19 points. Erin Bayram and Hannah Frazier each scored nine points for Batavia.

Both teams will also compete in Montini’s holiday tournament next week, where Marian is the top seed.

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