Batavia captures regional title in convincing fashion

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Batavia senior Liza Fruendt woke up to a text from her fellow senior teammate, Erin Bayram, Thursday morning, a text that featured a picture of the Bulldogs’ last regional championship team, way back in 1990.

When the Bulldogs arrived in their home gym for Thursday’s Class 4A Batavia Regional title game against Willowbrook later that day, a handful of the players from that 1990 team were on hand to cheer them on.

“They contacted me saying congrats, go get another one,” Batavia coach Kevin Jensen said. “We were pretty pumped about that.”

This version of Batavia’s girls basketball did that squad from 24 years ago proud.

Batavia broke open a close game at the half and cruised to a 63-42 win to advance to next week’s Class 4A Addison Trail Sectional against either Downers North or York.

“I can’t even describe it,” Fruendt said. “We’ve worked so hard all season. When we went through that lull where we lost to (St. Charles) East and North, we said there’s something ahead of us that’s going to be great. We said that we were going to get there by working hard, and that’s what we did.”

Willowbrook (23-5) took the starch out of the partisan Batavia crowd early, building a 9-2 lead at the outset. But Batavia (20-9) climbed back into the game.

Fruendt scored seven of her game-high 24 points at the end of the first quarter, tying the score at 13-13. The Bulldogs took a 27-22 lead into the half.

But in the second half, Batavia took off. A 22-5 run, fueled by 10 points from sophomore Hannah Frazier and eight points from Fruendt, put the game away.

“I think we just were all fired up,” Fruendt said. “We knew what was on the line. I think that we just focused and gave the best effort we could and it worked to our advantage tonight.”

Willowbrook sophomore Josie Zabran was a force down low, leading the Warriors with 20 points. But she couldn’t take on Bayram and Frazier by herself, and the early momentum they had waned as the game went along.

“They did a very good job of getting the ball inside in the second half, which really hurt us,” Willowbrook coach Terry Harrell said. “The girls showed up and did what they should have done. They just got us in the third quarter.”

Frazier had one of her best games of the season, posting 22 points and 10 rebounds for Batavia.

“She went to work, honestly,” Fruendt said. “She just went into beast mode, honestly. She didn’t back down from anyone. I’m really proud of her. She stepped up really big for us tonight.”

Now the Bulldogs prepare for a tournament they haven’t appeared in for 24 years, sectionals.

“We talked about (winning) conference,” Jensen said. “We talked about regionals. We talked about 20 wins. We got those. This is icing on the cake. I watched a lot of the teams that we could play, and I think we match up with any teams we could play at sectionals.”

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