On an emotional night where Batavia's girls basketball team honored its 2 seniors, it was a pair of St. Charles East juniors that stole the show.
Katie Claussner scored 16 of her team-high 22 points in the second half while Kyra Washington added 17 points and 9 rebounds to lead the Saints (11-13, 5-6) to a 53-48 upset victory over the Bulldogs (16-7, 8-1) Saturday night in Batavia.
"It's the greatest feeling," said Claussner, who made 5 crucial free throws over the final 2 minutes, 21 seconds to help preserve the Saints' road win. "This is a huge confidence builder from where we were. They were undefeated (in conference). This is great for us."
St. Charles East dropped a 63-41 decision to Batavia in the first meeting between the teams back on Jan. 14, shortly after the Saints had lost the services of senior guard Amanda Hilton to a kneecap injury.
"I'm very proud of the girls," said Saints coach Lori Drumtra. "We haven't won a lot of games against teams with winning records. We need to win a few more of those.
"At this point of the season when we just have two more games before the playoffs this is where I want us to be because we kind of got over the hump of adjustment without Amanda (Hilton). People have kind of figured out what they need to do."
Led by Division 1-bound seniors Liza Fruendt (Missouri State) and Erin Bayram (Boston University), the Bulldogs grabbed early leads of 7-2 and 10-6 only to have the Saints tie the score at 12-all after 1 quarter.
Washington drained a pair of her game-high five 3-point baskets in the opening quarter, while junior Chloe John added 4 points.
Claussner and Washington combined for 12 of their team's 16 second-quarter points as the Saints built a 28-19 halftime advantage.
"I've played with Kyra almost my whole life and our chemistry on the court is awesome," said Claussner. "I know she's out there when I drive (to the basket). I just get it to her and she always knocks it down."
Meanwhile, Batavia managed just 1 second-quarter field goal -- Fruendt's 3-pointer from the corner with 11 seconds remaining in the first half.
Additionally, the Saints earned a commanding 23-10 rebounding edge in the first 16 minutes.
"They beat us in the first half without a doubt," said Batavia coach Kevin Jensen. "They beat us to every loose ball -- everything someone would describe as a 50-50 ball. I would have to say the 50-50 balls were 75 percent them and 25 percent us."
Fruendt's 3-point play cut the Bulldogs' deficit to 35-31 with 2:28 left in the third quarter but the Saints countered with MacKenzie Meadows' short jumper and Claussner's driving layup to extend their lead back to 39-32.
Fruendt, who finished with a game-high 23 points, provided another emotional lift for the Bulldogs a few moments later as she swished a buzzer-beating 3-pointer just inside half-court to pull the home team within 39-35.
"Liza had to work hard (for her points)," Drumtra said of defending Batavia's all-time leading scorer. "You're not going to stop her -- she's too good a player to do that. Hopefully over the course of 32 minutes, she's going to start to feel that a little bit."
Hannah Nowling (13 rebounds) and John (10 rebounds) helped the Saints win the battle of the boards, 47-32, while Claussner continued to find creases in the Bulldogs' 2-3 zone defense.
"Katie is playing better and better," said Drumtra. "After the Geneva game, she was in my office saying, 'can we look at the fourth quarter?' so we dissected the fourth quarter. She's the last one to leave practice. I started to kick her out so she brings her own ball now. That's the type of kid she is."
Erin Bayram had 10 points while Hannah Frazier added 8 for the Bulldogs, who now own a 1-game lead over Geneva in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division standings.
"It was a bump in the road for us," said Jensen. "I told the girls it's going to make our path a little bit harder but at the same time everything we've talked about we can still do."