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Batavia seniors Liza Fruendt and Erin Bayram started their day with a ceremony to sign their national letters of intent for Missouri State and Boston University, respectively.
The duo ended it in their new role as the only two seniors on a Batavia girls basketball team with big expectations making its season debut at home against Glenbard South.
Fruendt led all scorers with 20 points while Bayram shook off early foul trouble to chip in 6 in the Bulldogs' 58-47 victory.
Of the 10 players Batavia coach Kevin Jensen put in the game, two are seniors, two are freshmen and six are sophomores. Needless to say, Jensen is counting on leadership from his two seniors.
"The dynamic of the team is a lot different than last year because we're a lot younger and inexperienced with the varsity level," Bayram said "But everyone works really hard and I think in the long run it will be beneficial to the program to have such a young team now."
One of those sophomores, Hannah Frazier, added 16 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals on an efficient 6-of-9 shooting from the field. While Frazier started last year and has plenty of experience, sophomores Shea Bayram, Jessica Koch, Madeline Slater and Katie Weber and freshmen Mackenzie Foster and Morgan Erickson all made their varsity debuts Tuesday.
"I just wanted to splash some people out there and get those butterflies out of their stomach," Jensen said. "I knew they were churning. This year is a first or a last. You are either a senior finishing out their career or a newcomer starting it off. It's an interesting mix. Liza and Erin have always played up, and now it is them and everyone younger than them. They are stepping up into a different type of leadership role being a mentor to these girls."
Bayram's night got off to an auspicious start. She was whistled for two fouls in the first 45 seconds and sat the rest of the first quarter.
"It was kind of difficult at first but I think once we all started getting fouls called on us we realized we had to change the way we played defense," Bayram said. "I think that really helped us."
Officials are going to call the games tighter this year and by the 2:04 mark of the first quarter the Raiders were at the line for their first 1-and-1 attempt.
"We're going to have to get used to it," Jensen said. "It was exactly what the guy told me before the game, this is how we have to call it. I don't think they are in love with it either, but they called exactly what they said they would call."
Luckily for Batavia (1-0), Glenbard South (0-1) couldn't buy a free throw early. The Raiders were 7-of-19 from the line before sinking 11 of their final 12 to finish 18 for 31 (58 percent). Batavia hit 75 percent (15 for 20).
Those misses helped Batavia turn a 13-11 lead after the first quarter into a 30-18 halftime advantage. Fruendt was quiet for most of the first half before scoring 9 of Batavia's final 11 points of the second quarter, and assisting Frazier on the other basket.
"In the beginning of the game I think we executed our fastbreak well and looked for openings," Glenbard South coach Julie Fonda said. "Then we got tired a little bit and stopped crashing the boards. Obviously in the first half if we make some of those free throws it's a different ballgame."
After sinking 14 of its 26 shots in the first half, Batavia struggled in the third quarter with 8 turnovers and 2-of-8 shooting. The Bulldogs scored just 6 points, but the Raiders couldn't capitalize with just 6 of their own to trail 36-24 going to the fourth.
Glenbard South rallied, scoring nearly as many points in the fourth quarter (23) as the first three combined (24). The Raiders got as close as 47-42 on a Sydney Bauman basket with 2:41 left and had a 3-pointer on its next possession rim out that would have made it a 2-point game.
Fruendt, just 5 for 19 from the field at that point, put the game away with 9 points in the final 1:34, converting on drives to the rim to overcome a rare cold shooting night from the perimeter. In addition to her game-high 20 points, she led Batavia with 11 rebounds and 4 assists.
"She was saying, 'Was my shooting percentage awful?' and I said 'Yeah, it wasn't great, but there was a lot of shots going to the hoop and when we needed a couple buckets to finish the game off you got them for us,'" Jensen said. "There's something to be said about when those buckets happen and that was big for us."
Tomei Ball led Glenbard South with 15 points. The Raiders shot just 28 percent (13 for 47) from the field.
"First game of the year I'm pleased with our output," Fonda said. "They worked hard for 32 minutes. I saw a lot of great things and a lot of things we need to work on."