>By Chris Appel, Cumberland Times-News, Md.
May 27–ACCIDENT — Considering it’s been a decade and a half since the last time anyone in the area has accomplished what she has, it could be a long time before we come across another player like Kaitlynn Fratz.
After four years of scoring almost at will, Fratz’s high school career puts her in a neighborhood with few occupants. With her second consecutive selection as the Cumberland Times-News Area girls basketball Player of the Year, she joins Westmar’s Dawn Sloan (1990-92) and Jill McGowan (1995-97), and Bishop Walsh’s Lauren Zapf (1998-99) as the only players to win the award multiple times since its inception in 1990.
By being selected player of the year Fratz also puts herself on the Times-News All-Area First-Team for the fourth year, becoming just the second player (McGowan, 1994-97) to be voted first team all four seasons. The All-Area team is featured in today’s Sports Magazine.
Fratz can now lay claim to a barrel of records and milestones. She holds Northern High School records (girls and boys) with 221 career three-pointers, 284 career steals and the single-season scoring mark with 734 points. She also set school girls records with 305 career assists and most points in a single game, with 39. With 2,103 career points, Fratz is Garrett County’s all-time scoring leader.
More important, though, was that Fratz was able to help her team to a 23-5 record and a trip to the Maryland 1A State Finals. After sharing the Times-News Area Championship with Allegany last season, Fratz led the Huskies to their first ever outright championship.
“Kaitlynn is not a person who seeks personal recognition, but I really believe that she felt she had something to prove to herself,” said Northern Coach Steve Fratz. “Her number-one priority was to do whatever it took to bring Northern its first state championship, and any personal achievement would be what it would be.”
The possibility of joining such an elite group did not seem to put any more pressure on her shoulders. At least not any that anyone could see.
“Kaitlynn always felt that she could win — she wanted the ball in her hands when the game was on the line. Each game night tremendous pressure was on her shoulders, but you would never know it,” Coach Fratz said.
And it seemed when Kaitlynn was able to ignore the pressure, the rest of the team was able to follow suit.
“A look at her high school career demonstrated how well Kaitlynn excelled in the big games. Her confidence spilled over to her team and even to the coaches.”
At no time was that more important, or evident, than during Northern’s playoff run to the Maryland 1A finals. After scoring 15 points in an opening round win against Clear Spring, Fratz scored 24 in wins over Southern and Allegany, 25 in a region championship game win over Smithsburg and 28 against Mardela in a state semifinal.
“I would have to say Kaitlynn’s best performance of the season was the entire playoffs,” said Coach Fratz. “Her level of play was escalated so high that it took the entire focus of the opposing teams to try to stop her, leaving the door open for her teammates to excel.”
Kaitlynn finished her high school career by scoring 22 points in Northern’s 80-62 loss to Dunbar in the state championship game.
Barely challenged as an individual scorer, she led the area in scoring for the third straight season by averaging 26.2 points, and drained an area-best 86 three-pointers. A 73-percent foul shooter her senior season (158 for 216), Fratz was also among the area leaders in assists (3.0 per game) and steals (2.8).
Though already playing well enough to earn the area’s top award last season, Fratz still strived to improve her game through intangibles.
Coach Fratz noticed the difference in the way she commanded the floor.
“Game management was her best improvement. She initiated all of the offense, demonstrated patience and limited her emotions. She let the game come to her instead of pushing the envelope every time up the floor,” he said.
Fratz will be continuing her career at the University of Pitt-Johnstown, where she has accepted a full athletic scholarship to play basketball.
According to Coach Fratz, Kaitlynn is walking into a chance to make an early impact.
“UPJ lost their two leading scorers, with one of them being an All-American. Coach (Sasha) Palmer operates a lot out of two point guard looks, and she has made mention that she would like to have more scoring production from that position.”
The impact that Fratz had on the Northern basketball program will never be forgotten. Her No. 11 jersey was retired and will be prominently displayed in the lobby of the gymnasium.
Chris Appel is a reporter for the Times-News. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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