By Andrew Johnson

BIG RAPIDS – The Fruitport Calvary Christian girl basketball team has passed its preliminary tests with flying colors.

Now the Eagles will face their biggest challenge thus far in Thursday’s Class D regional finals, when they match up with defending state champion Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart at 6:30 p.m.

They earned the right to play in the finals with a convincing 72-47 victory over Portland St. Patrick on Tuesday in the regional opener at Big Rapids Crossroads High School.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the victory was that Calvary’s two leading scorers, sisters Taylor Richards and Allyson Richards, both picked up their second fouls early in the second quarter.

That might have spelled trouble at the regional level, but the Richards girls made it through the rest of the game without any more fouls and did their usual damage.

Taylor Richards led the way with 38 points while Allyson Richards totaled 14. Hannah Roberts chipped in 13 points in the winning effort.

“Both of them get straight A’s in the classroom so you’d hope that a guy yelling 50 feet from them ‘No more fouls’ would work,” said Calvary Christian Coach Brad Richards, who is also their father.

“You have to show maturity and Taylor is a coach on the floor for us and she was able to play the rest of the quarter without picking up a third while I played Ally until just before halftime.”

The Eagles went to the locker room at halftime with a 27-19 lead.

St. Patrick opened the second half with a 5-0 run, but Calvary Christian responded and led 56-39 by the end of the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter the Eagles did their best to milk the clock before emptying their bench and claiming the victory.

After the game, the Eagles were already thinking about Thursday’s showdown with Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart.

“We respect them a lot and we know Thursday is going to be a tough game,” Brad Richards said. “We’re absolutely looking forward to that game and I know the kids are excited. We’re not afraid of anyone, so let’s just see what happens Thursday.”

“I think we played with great teamwork tonight and it showed, now we get ready to focus on Sacred Heart,” Taylor Richards said. “It was nice to get a breather at the end of the game and get to focus on Sacred Heart already.”