Toppmeyer: Frericks, Gengenbacher exit together as champions

Quincy Notre Dame seniors Jordan Frericks and Kassidy Gengenbacher, seated left to right in the middle of the front row, walked away from their historic careers in the only fashion imaginable as state champions for the third straight year. (H-W Photo/Mi
Posted: Mar. 2, 2013 10:23 pm Updated: Apr. 14, 2013 1:10 am

NORMAL, Ill. -- Kassidy Gengenbacher figures she will spend plenty of time utilizing video-chatting services Skype and FaceTime next year.

For seemingly the first time since they started playing basketball, Gengenbacher and Jordan Frericks, a fellow senior on the Quincy Notre Dame girls basketball team, will be apart.

Gengenbacher will continue her playing career next year at Lindenwood, while Frericks will play for Missouri.

Yet, they'll always have the comfort of knowing that their final hurrah ended the right way. Gengenbacher and Frericks steered QND to its third consecutive state championship Saturday, as the Lady Raiders beat Vernon Hills 62-45 at Illinois State University's Redbird Arena and completed a 30-0 season.

"How could you ask for a better ending? I think it just sums up what our whole career was like," Gengenbacher said. "It's been incredible playing with her the last four years. Just to end on this court here with her as a state champion, it's just awesome."

Gengenbacher and Frericks improved to 7-1 at Redbird Arena in their four years as QND starters.

"To be able to end it here at Redbird is a fairy tale ending really," Gengenbacher said.

Gengenbacher went 5 of 9 from 3-point range Saturday and led all players with 20 points. Frericks was 6 of 9 from the field and tallied 14 points, four rebounds and four steals despite being limited to 17 minutes because of foul trouble.

Vernon Hills (31-3) probably could have defeated QND if it only had to deal with Gengenbacher or only had to deal with Frericks.

Together, the first-team all-staters were simply too much.

"When they're out there together, our whole team just clicks," junior guard Cassidy Foley said.

With Frericks off the floor for considerable time in the late first and early second quarters, Vernon Hills trimmed a QND lead that had been as large as 13 points down to 20-19.

Although Gengenbacher and QND's supporting cast did an admirable job of holding down the fort, it was evident the Lady Raiders needed Batman and Robin on the court together if they were to become champions.

Orne rolled the dice and put Frericks in for about 4 1/2 minutes in the second quarter, and QND cut off Vernon Hills' momentum and built a 30-23 halftime lead.

Frericks picked up her third foul early in the third quarter and sat for most of that period.

Sitting Frericks allowed her to come back in the fourth quarter with three fouls and play her usual aggressive style. QND overwhelmed Vernon Hills in the final eight minutes, outscoring the Cougars 21-10.

"When one of them was off, we didn't close the gap nearly enough," Vernon Hills coach Paul Brettner said. "You have to take advantage of your spots like that. Those two are fantastic players, and when one of them is out, you have to make a run."

Brettner faced the plight so many coaches and opponents have the last four seasons.

Frericks and Gengenbacher have played together since joining forces for 3-on-3 tournaments early in elementary school. While Gengenbacher had older sister, Karlee, and younger sister, Kristen, on the court with her at times throughout her basketball career, Frericks turned to Gengenbacher.

"Her sister made her have that confidence (in their younger days), but then me and Kassidy with that friendship, she was kind of like my sister and gave me that confidence," Frericks said.

After a postseason game in Jacksonville last month, a few young fans grabbed Frericks for her autograph.

Maybe more than the titles or the wins, that best symbolizes the impact Frericks and Gengenbacher have had on their community the last four years.

Longtime Quincyans will tell stories of how they took to their driveways as kids and pretended to be Quincy High School's Bruce Douglas, needing a key basket to lift the team to victory.

Now, when young girls in Quincy head to their driveway with a basketball in hand, they'll be Kassidy Gengenbacher, needing to make a clutch 3-pointer with a championship on the line. Or they'll be Jordan Frericks, trying to use their athleticism to snare a loose ball or grab a rebound.

And so, Frericks and Gengenbacher will head their separate ways next fall. But their legacy will carry on back in Quincy.


Note: A previous version of this story indicated that Gengenbacher was 6 of 10 from 3-point range in Saturday's game. She was 5 of 9.

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