Batavia got a taste of postseason basketball in December on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Montini Christmas Tournament.
The Bulldogs found themselves in that pressure-packed type of back-and-forth game from the opening tip to the final buzzer, one in which every possession matters against an undefeated Trinity team.
Batavia acquitted itself nicely, leading for much of a matchup that had 14 ties or lead changes. The Bulldogs built a 6-point lead in the fourth quarter but couldn't quite hang on, an 11-2 Trinity run late in the fourth quarter the difference in its 66-64 victory.
Batavia (11-3) will get another tough test at 3 p.m. Friday against Neuqua Valley while Trinity (13-0) advances to the semifinals against Rolling Meadows.
"The girls are not real happy," Batavia coach Kevin Jensen said. "I have to tell them we have to do things better, but we can't be mad at that game. I think we both played very well and it was a good high school basketball game."
Batavia senior Liza Fruendt hit buzzer-beaters to end three of the four quarters. The only one she didn't was the third, and that was because she was on the bench with four fouls.
The Bulldogs led 43-40 with 1:29 left in the third quarter when Fruendt picked up her fourth, and when she returned with 4:16 left in the fourth quarter Batavia was still ahead 55-53.
"I thought we played spectacular," Jensen said of the critical stretch without Fruendt. "Bethany (Orman) did a good job of staying calm. Those girls did a great job."
Katie Weber and Hannah Frazier made 4 straight free throws to give Batavia a 47-44 lead going to the fourth quarter. Shea Bayram opened the fourth with 2 free throws, then assisted Frazier for a basket inside.
Orman converted 2 more at the line and Erin Bayram followed with a strong move down low for a 55-49 Batavia lead with 5:26 remaining, matching its biggest lead of the game.
Trinity responded behind its DePaul-bound guard Lauren Prochaska who repeatedly drove hard, getting to the line 19 times in the game and 10 in the fourth quarter. She scored 11 of her team-high 22 points in the fourth.
Prochaska scored on a pair of drives after Batavia had opened its 6-point lead, and sophomore Annie McKenna buried a 3-pointer with 2:59 to play that put Trinity ahead to stay, 59-57.
Batavia had its chances down the stretch, hurting itself with a turnover, a couple missed free throws and not boxing out on a Trinity missed free throw. The Blazers, meanwhile, were able to run down much of the clock without turning the ball over.
"I'm frustrated we let it slip away," Jensen said. "Everyone left on this side of the bracket, there's very little room for error. We're going to think about the things at the end a little more -- a rebound, a free throw, a turnover -- but there's little things throughout the game, if one of those goes different, those all could have factored."
McKenna added 20 points for Trinity, who is off to the best start in school history.
"I thought Lauren took over the game late for us," Trinity coach Ed Stritzel said. "We're real happy. We're young but we're unbelievably deep."
Fruendt's first buzzer-beater came from just inside the half-court line, a nothing-but-net 35-foot 3-pointer that put Batavia ahead 15-14 after one quarter. She capped the second quarter with a steal and breakaway layup for a 33-30 halftime lead.
Batavia led at halftime despite 10 first-quarter turnovers; the Bulldogs finished with 23 having their hands full at times with Trinity's aggressive trap. Batavia countered by shooting well -- 19 of 40 from the field and 21 of 28 at the line.
Fruendt led all scorers with 25 points, 17 in the first half before foul trouble and Trinity's box-and-1 defense played factors in the second half. Frazier added 13 points and 7 rebounds, Orman 10 points and Erin Bayram 8 points and 7 rebounds. Freshman Mackenzie Foster chipped in 2 big baskets and solid defense off the bench.
"She's (Fruendt) a heck of a player," Stritzel said. "You have to build your whole defense around her. We went to a combination defense in the second half and I thought that slowed her down at least a little bit."