For all the good things his team did on offense Saturday afternoon, Batavia girls basketball coach Kevin Jensen was most pleased with the Bulldogs' defense.
As he should have been.
Batavia held Streamwood to its third lowest scoring game of the season and junior Liza Fruendt sparked the separation needed in the third quarter as the Bulldogs blew Streamwood out if its own gym, 65-40, in Upstate Eight Conference River Division action.
The loss denied Streamwood a share of the River title, which would have been the program's first conference championship since 1987-88. Instead, Geneva wins the River outright while Streamwood and St. Charles East finish tied for second. Based on the league's tiebreaker criteria, SCE gets the second-place crossover game Thursday night at Metea Valley while Streamwood will head south to play rival Bartlett for the second straight year. Batavia finishes fourth in the division and will be at South Elgin Thursday.
"We adjusted today and played a 2-3 zone," said Jensen. "It's the first time we've played it but they're big three are tough matchups. It's tough matching up with (Deja) Moore, (Jessica) Cerda and (Hannah) McGlone all at once."
Batavia's defense forced Streamwood (18-7, 9-3), which has lost three of its last four games, into a 14-for-53 shooting day.
"We practiced every day this week on defense," said Fruendt. "We had people playing their big three against us and we worked on defense all week."
While Batavia's defense forced the Sabres into offensive struggles, Streamwood coach George Rosner was most upset with his own team's defense, which allowed its most points in a single game this season.
"We give up 42 points a game and today 65," said Rosner, whose team had beaten Batavia 53-50 earlier in the season. "Batavia's good, but we gave up 65. We let them stay in their zone and we didn't hit our shots."
Rosner also pointed to a 10-2 Batavia run to end the first half as being a key. The Bulldogs (17-9, 8-4) led 16-14 when a basket from senior Miranda Grizaffi with 4:40 left in the half started the run. Senior Sami Villareal hit one of her four 3-pointers, Fruendt nailed a 3 and freshman Hannah Frazier scored with 2:53 left to give Batavia a 26-16 lead. Holly Foret's basket for Streamwood with 2:02 left was the last score of the half and the Bulldogs had a 26-18 advantage at the break.
Batavia led 31-24 after a Cerda basket with 5:07 left in the third quarter, but junior Erin Bayram's basket started an 11-4 Batavia run that made it 42-28 after a Frazier basket with 1:28 left in the period. Streamwood never got closer than 10 the rest of the way as the Bulldogs shot 9-for-13 in the fourth quarter and 25 of 59 for the day. During the decisive third-quarter run, Fruendt scored 7 straight points including a 3-pointer.
"Once we catch the fire we really catch it," said Fruendt, who scored a game-high 23 points and had 8 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 assists. "We started hitting shots and we played awesome defense today. Our defense won the game."
"She does what she does," said Jensen of Fruendt. "I'm biased because I coach her every day but I'd like to see her be player of the year in the conference."
Villareal had 12 points, Bayram added 11 and Frazier had 10 for Batavia. Bayram also had 7 rebounds as the Bulldogs outrebounded Streamwood 38-33.
"We felt like it would be a close game. Last time we played we were 4-for-20 on 3s," said Jensen, whose team was 7-for-17 form behind the arc on Saturday.
Cerda led the Sabres with 12 points and 3 steals. McGlone, who sat out much of the second quarter with two early fouls, had 11 points and 6 rebounds and Moore added 7 points and 10 boards.
"You live with the 3 and die with it sometimes," said Rosner. "Tonight (Batavia) lived with it. They were confident in their shot. They're tough because they have two bigs and they have shooters.
"We just told our kids if you win tonight you're Upstate Eight champs. That's all you can do. Either you do or you don't. Nobody's going to say we didn't want it. We wanted it, but you have to show that on the court. We've had a disappointing last few games. We just have to right it and get back to doing what we were doing. We have to play better on both ends of the court."