Batavia senior Liza Fruendt had many landmark moments this winter on her way to becoming the Beacon-News Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
The one that sticks out the most is her 51-point explosion at rival Geneva, completing a regular-season sweep of the team Fruendt and the Bulldogs had never beaten in her first three seasons. It was the most points scored by a boy or girl in school history.
Also in the running: clinching a share of the Upstate Eight River title, winning the program’s first regional title in 24 years, appearing in a sectional title game for the first time in program history and setting the school’s all-time career scoring mark with 1,921 points.
Instead, when Fruendt looks back at her remarkable season before heading off to Missouri State this summer, she will remember the first weekend of the season down in Morton.
The Bulldogs played a game in the morning and then piled on the bus, in uniform, to drive to DeKalb to watch the football team win the Class 6A state championship.
“That was the turning point in our season,” Fruendt said. “We got to spend so much time together and we got to see the football team do something really big, and in the back of our minds, we thought it would be really cool to do something like that. It was so much fun, so that was my highlight.”
The run that followed will not soon be forgotten in Batavia. And Fruendt was in the middle of it. She jumped from averaging 19 points as a junior to 24.7 points this year, including eight games of 30 or more. Her versatility and ability to shoot three-pointers at a high percentage made her extremely difficult to guard.
That led the Bulldogs to accomplishing all of their preseason goals and going deeper in the postseason than any prior Batavia team.
“That’s what you work for,” Fruendt said. “Sometimes things happen and it doesn’t work out that way, but I was very blessed to have the senior year that I had and have no injuries. The thing that I enjoy looking at is that every year, I improved. Not only did I improve, my team did too. That’s really significant.”
Fruendt’s goal now is to figure out how to keep improving in a new environment and at a new level.
Her statistics and her team’s wins increased in each of her four years at Batavia. She leaves for Springfield, Mo., on June 6 to begin summer school and start working out with her new team.
“I think it is nice to know that the hard work paid off and you’re going to play at the next level, but you have to bring your game to the next level, too,” Fruendt said. “Now I have to try to improve.”
Fruendt made her decision to attend Missouri State before her huge senior season, and Batavia coach Kevin Jensen think the Bears may have gotten a steal.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s contributing next year,” Jensen said. “I think it will be a great place for her. She’s got great coaches (head coach Kellie Harper won three national titles playing for Pat Summitt at Tennessee); I’ve met the whole staff.
“It will be tough seeing her go. She had an outstanding year. So much of what she did was able to contribute to our success. It was an amazing run for her.”