Carlson's 32 sparks Batavia's win over Neuqua
Being compared to Liza Fruendt at Batavia isn't just any compliment.
A standout who set the Bulldogs girls basketball record with 1,921 points and went on to play Division I basketball at Missouri State is quite the name drop at Batavia.
Coach Kevin Jensen got the honor of coaching Fruendt and sees a lot of her in his sophomore point guard Brooke Carlson.
The 5-foot-6 Carlson scored a game-high 32 points as Batavia held off Neuqua Valley, 63-56, Tuesday night in both teams' season opener.
While Fruendt had a decent height advantage over the Bulldogs' current point guard, Jensen notices similarities in their games that he believes could make Carlson a special player for the next several years.
"She's just as dynamic a player as they come," Jensen said. "It's like coaching [Liza Fruendt] again. She can just make so many plays for us out there. I always tease her that it's not just her game, but her personality reminds me so much of Liza, as well ... It's a nice safety valve to have. I don't think we were perfect out there tonight, by any means, but to be able to trust some special players out there certainly helps calm things down."
Carlson scored 21 of her game-high 32 points after halftime, including scoring 14 of Batavia's 18 fourth quarter points. She also knocked down 14-of-17 free-throw attempts in the victory.
While experience isn't necessarily on her side early in her high school career, Carlson has no problem having the ball in her hands in the big moments of a game.
"I like to have control of the game at the end," Carlson said. "I have a lot of confidence in myself to knock down my [free throws]. I think we played a great game tonight and it was fun the entire time."
Senior center Tessa Towers also played a big role. While Neuqua Valley (0-1) keyed in on her down the stretch, the Wisconsin commit scored 11 of her 17 points in the first half to help Batavia (1-0) build as big as a seven-point advantage early in the second quarter.
While Towers made her impact, adding a game-high 13 rebounds, Neuqua Valley coach Mike Williams thought his team did a decent job on the 6-foot-5 center. It was Carlson that he thought made the difference.
"I thought [Carlson] lit up the world tonight," Williams said. "She was the game changer. She came to play tonight and I have to give her all of the credit in the world. She plays extremely hard and you can tell that they wanted this game tonight. I'm proud of the way we fought back and I told the girls after that it's not about where you start, it's about where you finish."
The Wildcats cut a Batavia seven-point third quarter lead down to 39-37, but Carlson and fellow sophomore Kylee Gehrt hit back-to-back 3-pointers to take a comfortable lead heading into the final eight minutes.
Carlson closed out the game with two free throws in the final minute after Neuqua battled back and pulled within five points. Kylee Norkus led a balanced Neuqua Valley attack with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
While individual numbers are great, Carlson said she cares about one thing and one thing only.
"We got the win tonight and that's all that matters," Carlson said. "It was a really fun way to start the season, but we're happy to get the win tonight."