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Batavia knew it was in for a challenge unlike it has seen so far this season Wednesday night at the Oswego Hoops for Troops Tournament, and Marian Catholic delivered that and then some.
The defending Class 4A state champions shot 59 percent from the field while harassing Batavia on the other end to earn a 64-45 victory and a spot in Saturday's championship game against Neuqua Valley.
Batavia (9-2) will play Rich South in the third-place game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
"They are pretty good, holy cow," Batavia coach Kevin Jensen said. "I don't think we played bad at all. We missed shots because we had to play so fast. That is exactly what I was looking forward to. That's an aiming point for us."
Marian Catholic (8-2) returns three starters from last year's state championship team and each of them was a handful for the Bulldogs.
DePaul-bound Ashton Millender dominated the first half. She scored 18 of her game-high 22 points in the opening half, several on midrange jumpers that never seemed to miss and other times penetrating through the defense for a lay-in.
Millender scored 5 points in the final 40 seconds of the first half after Batavia had pulled within 31-26 on a Hannah Frazier basket. Millender's late spree put the Spartans ahead 36-26 at halftime.
Point guard Teniya Page picked up her offense in the second half, scoring 8 unanswered points as part of a 10-0 run that turned a 42-31 lead into 52-31. She finished with 20 points and 9 assists.
A third returning starter, Kauai Bradley, added 12 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocked shots and 2 steals. She was the leader on the glass which the Spartans controlled 31-18.
"They are talented at basketball," Jensen said. "I don't want to take away that. It's not lie they are just athletic girls running around. They are talented at basketball."
Coming off a career-high 37 points Monday against Proviso East when she made four 3-pointers to go with 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals, Liza Fruendt picked off where she left off.
Fruendt gave Batavia its only lead of the game at 3-2 with a 3-point basket, and she followed with two more 3s and a 15-foot jumper for Batavia's first 11 points of the game. The Bulldogs trailed 12-11 at that point.
"We knew how good Fruendt is," Marian coach Dan Murray said. "You saw a couple of those shots she hit early. But I thought we did a good job making it difficult on her. We want to try to force the ball out of her hands. We know she makes a lot of their decisions and we were trying to make some of the other kids make decisions. For the most part I thought we did a pretty good job of that."
Marian Catholic hit Batavia with three big spurts in the game, and the first came to close the first quarter with an 11-2 surge to open a 23-13 lead going to the second quarter.
Bethany Orman and Fruendt started the second quarter with 3s to bring Batavia within 23-19. Fruendt opened the game making her first four 3s but misfired on her final six.
"I thought our depth did a nice job tonight wearing them out," Murray said.
Marian got more efficient as the game went on, making 14 of its 19 shots in the second half. The Spartans, whose only losses this year came to Oakland (Tenn.) and Fremd by 1 point when it let a 9-point lead get away in the final two minutes, only made 1 free throw Wednesday on 5 attempts.
"It's hard for 15-, 16-, 17-year old kids sometimes to realize everyone is going to be coming after you," Murray said. "The other night when we played Fremd and we walked down the hall and you could hear Fremd's locker room, that might have finally clicked with them a little with what we are trying to say to them. Obviously everyone is going to be up for us and we need to be ready every night and I thought the girls did a nice job of rising to the occasion."
Fruendt led Batavia with 19 points. Frazier and Erin Bayram both added 9 points with Bayram battling the Spartans who came into the lane with 4 blocked shots.
"As good as they are, there's things we can do if we are doing them right. There's just very little room for error against a team that good when they are hitting their shots," said Jensen, noting he thought Wednesday was the best Marian has played in the tournament. "It seemed they clicked tonight."
Batavia, who had its 7-game winning streak snapped, has the same 2-1 in the tournament as Rich South.
"We talked about getting through the month .500 at these (tournaments) but now I want to be greedy and get out of here 3-1," Jensen said.