Fruitport Calvary girls improve to 13-2 with an impressive 56-49 victory over Holton

By Dave Hart
LocalSportsJournal.com

FRUITPORT – The real test for the Fruitport Calvary Christian girls basketball team came this season, following the graduation of All-State scoring machine Taylor Richards.LSJ Logo incert

Thus far the outcome has been very good. Calvary, now 13-2, is clearly establishing itself as one of the better small school girls programs in the state.

Madison Heiss drives to the basket against Holton's Shelbey Younts. Photo/Jason Goorman

Madison Heiss drives to the basket against Holton’s Shelbey Younts. Photo/Jason Goorman

That was evident again on Monday, when Calvary played host to Holton, one of the many larger schools that the Eagles scheduled this season to sharpen up for postseason play.

Calvary closed out a tight game by hitting a dozen free throws in the fourth quarter and walked away with a 56-49 victory.

While Monday’s game was a non-league affair, Calvary’s most immediate goal is winning its conference. The Eagles have a perfect 6-0 record in the Alliance League, which they have won for three straight years.

They can clinch at least at least a share of another title when they play Byron Center Zion on Friday.

The Eagles also have their eyes on the upcoming state tournament. Last year they reached the Class D regional finals before bowing out.

So how does a team from a school with only 78 students manage to keep winning at such an impressive clip, particularly after losing the best player it ever had?

“We have so many great kids from great families here,” said Fruitport Calvary Christian Coach Brad Richards, the father of Taylor Richards, as well as two younger daughters who are currently on the team. “They are hard working players who get support from their families.”

Fruitport Calvary's Kyleah Sutherland takes the charge against Holton guard Makayla Hutchison. Photo/Jason Goorman

Fruitport Calvary’s Kyleah Sutherland takes the charge against Holton guard Makayla Hutchison. Photo/Jason Goorman

While Calvary is having another great season, Holton is trying to reload after going 18-5 and winning a Class C district championship in 2014-15.

“We had a nice group of seniors that came through,” said Holton Coach Jayson Robins, whose team dropped to 8-7. “They graduated and during the first five games this season we were trying to figure out who is going to put the ball in the basket.

“When we got that ironed out we have been much more competitive.”

Calvary and Holton played a tight game all the way to the end.

The Red Devils led throughout the first quarter and had a 13-11 edge at the buzzer. Holton’s Makayla Hutchison scored five of her seven points during the first stanza.

Calvary managed to tie the contest at 13-13 and 18-18 in the second quarter, led by Allyson Richards’ 12 points. But Holton had a 27-26 edge at halftime.

Kelsey Richards goes to the basket for the Eagles against Holtons No. 32 Savannah Cressman. Photo/Jason Goorman. Photo/Jason Goorman

Kelsey Richards goes to the basket for the Eagles against Holton’s No. 32 Savannah Cressman. Photo/Jason Goorman. Photo/Jason Goorman

The Eagles took their first lead of the contest 29 seconds into the third quarter on a basket by Kelsey Richards. They went on to outscore Holton 16-11 in the quarter and had a 42-28 lead after three.

Madison Heiss scored six of her eight points in the third quarter for Calvary.

The Eagles only made one basket in the fourth quarter, but sealed the victory by hitting 12 of 19 free throws down the stretch.

Allyson Richards made seven of those crucial free throws and finished with 23 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Hannah Roberts added 12 points and five assists for the winners while Kelsey Richards had 10 points.

Savannah Cressman paced Holton with 13 points while Courtney Slater and Alicia Dykman added eight points apiece.

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