By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Jordan Frericks needed no introduction.
When Frericks visited a local elementary school recently to read to the students as part of an assignment for her speech class, the question was posed to the youngsters whether they knew who Frericks was.
"All these hands went up," Frericks recalled.
When Frericks and the Quincy Notre Dame girls basketball team played a regional game at Jacksonville last month, some young Jacksonville fans caught her after the game for her autograph.
"It was maybe five or six, or maybe more, they just asked me on the programs to sign my name," said Frericks, QND's 6-foot-2 senior all-stater.
Shy by nature, Frericks talks humbly about those incidents.
"If you didn't know any better, you wouldn't realize she's such a big star," QND junior Mary Beth Hugenberg said.
Everyone did know better. Despite that, Frericks' dominant game was almost impossible to stop.
She averaged 16.4 points per game en route to helping the Lady Raiders go 30-0 and win the Class 3A state championship. It was the third straight state championship for Frericks and QND.
Frericks has been selected as the 2013 Herald-Whig Girls Basketball Player of the Year, making her the sixth player to repeat as the winner since the award launched in 1978.
'She controlled the game'
Frericks scored 34 points in QND's 82-43 season-opening victory against West Hancock. Although Frericks will depart QND as the program's all-time leading scorer with 1,933 career points, that game marked the only time in four seasons as a starter that she scored at least 30 points.
"She dominated the game like she did score 30 points a game," QND coach Eric Orne said. "Whether it's seven steals, eight rebounds, she just had an incredible will to win and a sense of anticipation that she could dominate the game when she was on the court."
That was evidenced by Frericks' averages of eight rebounds, 5.1 steals, 3.4 assists and 2.8 blocks per game. She was incredibly efficient, shooting 62.7 percent from the field. She led QND or tied for the team high in rebounds in 25 games, including 19 straight games during a stretch late in the season.
"You could tell she was going to do whatever she needed to do to get her team the victory, whether it was be a scorer, whether it would be get a stop on defense or a rebound or a block," said Springfield coach Brad Scheffler, whose teams played QND during each of Frericks' four years.
"If that's what she needed (to do), that's what she did. She controlled the game."
Frericks, who has signed to play at the University of Missouri, became known for her ability to take over with her defense, and she did that while appearing to barely break a sweat.
"Watching her play, she's so graceful," Hugenberg said. "Everything she does is just so fluid. It's almost like she's just doing a dance out there."
You notice when she's gone
Arguably the best indication of Frericks' impact came during the Lady Raiders' 62-45 win over Vernon Hills in the state championship. Foul trouble limited Frericks to 17 minutes in that game, and fellow senior standout Kassidy Gengenbacher paced QND with 20 points, while Frericks had 14.
When Frericks was on the floor though, Vernon Hills was no match.
In the game's first 2 1/2 minutes, Frericks scored six points and had two steals as her 6-foot-6 wingspan wreaked havoc at the point of QND's press.
That helped QND establish a 9-2 lead before Frericks picked up her second foul. The Lady Raiders kept the lead with Frericks on the bench. She returned for a portion of the second quarter with QND leading 16-13 and helped push the lead to 30-21.
A third foul limited Frericks' playing time in the third quarter, but she never picked up a fourth foul and returned to her aggressive play throughout the fourth quarter, when QND pulled away by outscoring Vernon Hills 21-10.
When Frericks was on the floor, QND outscored Vernon Hills 43-22. During times she was off the court, Vernon Hills had a 23-19 advantage.
"I just never had one player who could just dominate the game like she could," Orne said. "It just was both ends of the court. She dominated. Even if we weren't making shots, she was taking things away from the other team.
"I think she was the stellar player that made us a stellar team."
Becoming a leader
Frericks dominated from Day 1 at QND, as evidenced being a three-time Associated Press all-state selection and her sixth-place finish for Illinois Ms. Basketball last season. She was listed on the Ms. Basketball ballot again this season. Voting results haven't been released.
The difference this year was she, along with Gengenbacher, were asked to take over the leadership duties after the graduation of Tori Kuhn and Shannon Foley.
"I definitely was a lot more shy in the past years than I was this year," Frericks said. "I think just my confidence through the years has just gotten bigger each time.
"That's just really what I wanted to do, just be there to help my teammates and the teams to come to do things similar I guess to what Kassidy and I did."
That was guide QND to a 124-5 mark the past four seasons.
Orne said Frericks' leadership really became evident when she commanded the ball late in QND's 47-42 Dec. 15 win over Columbia Rock Bridge, which went on to win the Missouri Class 5 state title. Frericks' 12 points against the Bruins tied for a team high, and her six rebounds paced QND.
"When our offense went stagnant, she was the one that came up and said, â€˜Give me the ball. I'll burden some of this and help us get a victory.'" Orne said. "That was one thing that for years as a freshman and sophomore, as talented as she was, she had to let the ball come to her a little bit. But she wanted that ball, and I think the girls saw her leadership and her will."
When asked how she'd like people to remember her career when they look back on it years from now, Frericks said, "I just really hope that people will remember me in that way, that I tried to do anything I could to use my talent to help my team."
It's a safe bet Frericks will be remembered for that -- and so much more.
"It's come to me before that I'm probably playing with the best basketball player that's ever going to come to QND," Hugenberg said.