The road to the regional finals hasn’t exactly been competitive for the Eagles, but the trophy round made up for it all.
Balanced scoring led Calvary to an 11-9 lead through the first quarter as Kristina Warren, Lizzie Cammenga, Brionna Johnson and Kelsey Richards all notched a bucket in the opening frame.
Mendon turnovers mounted in the face of strong Calvary pressure in the second quarter, while nine points in the frame for Richards propelled the Eagles to a 23-16 halftime lead.
A quick 5-2 run put Calvary up 10 early in the second half before the Hornets mounted their comeback. Despite 10 third-quarter points from Cammenga, Mendon managed to cut the Calvary lead to just 34-28 heading into the fourth.
The Hornet offense came alive in the final period, netting 18 points in the quarter. The run cut the Eagles’ lead to just one point four times in the final eight minutes.
A one-and-one free-throw attempt for Mendon threatened to finally tie the game up in the closing minute, but the pivotal first shot didn’t fall. Johnson gathered the rebound and found Cammenga on the break to go back up by three points.
Mendon would not quit, sprinting down the court through the Eagle press for a bucket, cutting the lead back to one. Richards then drew a foul on the inbound pass, sinking both shots to put the lead back to three with 24 seconds remaining.
On the ensuing transition, Richards nabbed a steal and was fouled, sending her back to the line to ice the game. The senior uncharacteristically missed both free throws, giving Mendon a last-possession heave from three to tie the game. With seven made 3-pointers so far, one for the win was likely. The shot was off the mark, triggering a celebration for the Calvary faithful.
“I’m so happy for our players, our fans and the school, and for all the players who came before these girls and built the foundation for this championship,” said Calvary head coach Brad Richards. “Life can be hard and full of challenges, but Psalms 37:4 says sometimes that, ‘God will give you the desires of your heart.’
“So many Calvary people put so much time and effort into coaching and helping this team, and the girls tonight simply refused to lose. They gutted out this championship and made the plays they had to make to win the game.
“Give Mendon credit, they could have slowly given up after going down double figures, but they just kept battling. This was a really good Mendon team. They were tough to prepare for because they had a lot of girls who took risks and scored, and they play such a deliberate, slow style of game.”
Richards led the Eagles with 21 points and nine rebounds. Cammenga made three 3-pointers in the second half to make it 17 points for the night to go with eight rebounds. Johnson added six points and seven rebounds, while Emily Wesner had seven assists, and Kristina Warren scored six points and five assists.
The win improves Calvary’s record to 20-5, tying for the second all-time winningest season in school history.
They advance to the state quarterfinals to take on Adrian Lenawee Christian (23-2) at Richland Gull Lake on March 19 at 7 p.m.