By Andrew Johnson

BIG RAPIDS – Only one team can win a state championship in each class, so a lot of great high school basketball players end their careers in disappointment.

That was the case for Taylor Richards on Thursday night.

Richards, a senior standout for Fruitport Calvary Christian, led the Eagles into a tough game against defending Class D state champion Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart in the girls basketball regional finals at Big Rapids Crossroads High School.

The Eagles battled hard but dropped a 46-38 decision, ending Richards’ five-year varsity career.

But she ended it in style, scoring a game-high 27 points to bring her varsity total to an astounding 2,551. She finished her senior season with a scoring average of more than 30 points per game.

“Taylor decided at a young age she was going to be a great player, she put in hundreds of hours in when nobody was watching,” said her coach, Brad Richards, who is also her father. “You saw this season there were moments where she would take over for us.”

Despite her disappointment with the loss, Richards acknowledged the great memories she will take from her prep basketball years.

Next year she will study and play basketball at Cornerstone University.

“When I look back on high school, the most special memories are going to be with my basketball team,” Taylor Richards said.

For a while on Thursday it seemed as though the Eagles might live to fight another day.

They came out strong, building a 14-8 lead at the first buzzer, with 10 points coming from Taylor Richards.

But the Eagles lost their momentum after that, scoring only two points in the second quarter and nine in the third. They clung to a 16-14 lead at halftime, but trailed 32-25 at the third break.

Sacred Heart had a 14-13 edge in the fourth quarter to seal the win and move on to the state quarterfinals. Calvary Christian fought hard until the end, but was never able to get closer than four points.

“You can’t score two points in the second quarter, and nine points in the third quarter,” Brad Richards said. “Turnovers were costly for us.”

Calvary Christian finished the season with a 20-4 record.

Riley Terwilliger led Sacred Heart in scoring with 14 points.