St. Charles East ousts Batavia
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It was a miserable night at the time back on Jan. 8 when St. Charles East traveled to Batavia and lost 74-49.
What a difference a month can make.
Saints coach Lori Drumtra smiled proudly Tuesday night after watching her Saints avenge that loss for a second time, this one by a similarly one-sided margin 59-40 in the Class 4A St. Charles East regional semifinals.
"I think they learned from it and it was probably good it happened when it did," Drumtra said. "Unfortunately it hurt us in the conference but in the long run it will probably help us a little. That was very early when we were still getting used to the adjustment in our lineup. I think we've adjusted quite well."
St. Charles East (18-11) won its sixth straight game Tuesday with solid performances up and down its lineup.
Amanda Hilton scored 10 of her team-high 16 points in the first quarter. Laney Deckrow hustled for one rebound, steal or loose ball after another to finish with 13 points, 9 rebounds and 3 steals. Kyra Washington came off the bench for 15 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals and 8 for 8 free-throw shooting.
"We really moved the ball well together and we're peaking at the right time," Deckrow said.
On the other end Batavia struggled getting anyone other than Liza Fruendt going. Fruendt scored 24 of her team's 40 points; Erin Bayram added 8 and nobody else scored more than 2.
Fruendt made 11 of her 19 shots from the field but the rest of the team connected on only 5 of 29. Batavia also missed all 5 of its free throws while trying to rally in the third quarter.
"We were just really pumped up for this game," Washington said. "We played as a team the whole game. I thought it was going to be a close game.
"We just built from that (first loss to Batavia). For the past week we have been working on some stuff to use against them. It paid off."
Batavia took its only lead 12-11 late in the first quarter on consecutive baskets by Fruendt. Hilton buried a 3-pointer on the Saints' next trip to put St. Charles East back on top and start a 10-0 run that spanned the first and second quarters.
Washington closed the first quarter with a 3-point basket after a hustle play by the Saints to keep possession. St. Charles East was quicker to the loose balls all game.
"It felt like any time there was a tip or a loose ball it felt like we were stuck in the mud and they were getting there," Batavia coach Kevin Jensen said. "I don't think it was us a bad effort after it, I just think when you have those three guards (Hilton, Carly Pottle and Katie Claussner) that fast, they can make it look like we were stuck in the mud. That's an extra possession here, extra possession there."
Hilton fed Anna Bartels for a basket to start the second quarter and keep the momentum going. Freshman Bethany Orman finally stopped the bleeding for the Bulldogs with a baseline jumper. and after Fruendt's layup Batavia had trimmed the Saints' lead to 21-16.
That turned out to be the closest Batavia got. The Saints went on their second 10-0 run of the half to take control up 31-16.
St. Charles East helped itself by getting to the free-throw line 10 times in the first half, making 8 (they finished 18 for 22). Even after a banked-in 3 from Fruendt beat the first-half buzzer, St. Charles East led 33-21.
"I felt the girls were in control the whole game," Drumtra said. "Even though Batavia went on a couple of runs I thought we kind of regrouped and answered. We came down and we executed. I thought they played real confidently."
Pottle's 3 pushed the Saints' lead to 42-25 midway through the third quarter. Fruendt scored 11 straight points for the Bulldogs including rebounding a missed Saints free throw and taking the ball the length of the court for a driving layup.
Her steal and layup got Batavia within 44-36, but Washington knocked down a long baseline jumper with 3 seconds left in the third quarter, then the Bulldogs ran out of gas in the fourth scoring just 4 points.
"I thought Amanda (Hilton) played pretty good defense on her (Fruendt) early in the game," Jensen said. "It doesn't matter what kind of quickness is in front of her she still has the ability to get by people. We just had a hard time initiating anything offensively."
The Saints will play Geneva (18-10) for the regional championship at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The first time the teams played at St. Charles East this year, the Saints came from 16 points down to beat Geneva 81-75 in overtime; the rematch also went to overtime with Geneva winning on its home court.
"We said this is a golden opportunity so take advantage of it," Drumtra said. "It has been two great games (with Geneva). They have the bigs and I think we have the water bugs so to speak. We've got to use the speed to our advantage. We've got to work really hard on the boards because we are going to be outsized pretty much to the man. It should be fun."
Batavia (18-11) can take solace in improving its victory by 5 games for the second straight season with just an 8-player roster.
"We accomplished some of the goals we talked about," Jensen said. "It's not much of a consolation for the seniors but I look at the big picture and their two years with me they have improved by 10 wins. Five more wins next year would take us to 23.
"I felt we overcame a lot of obstacles. The best thing about this group is it is eight girls who were best friends with each other. We couldn't have done what we did if it wasn't eight people who were best friends with each other. We would have fallen apart a long time ago. We have all kinds of different personalities, freshmen to seniors, they have come together and are best friends and made our job a lot easier.
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