By Dave Tomczak

FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP – Fruitport Calvary Christian girls basketball coach Brad Richards knew his team would have its hands full Wednesday night.

The Eagles squared off against a Muskegon Catholic Central team full of seniors who lost to Calvary last year in the Class D districts.

The Crusaders had revenge on their minds, and the Calvary girls were wary.

“We knew it would take a monumental effort tonight,” Richards said. “We knew Muskegon Catholic would come in here and give it everything they had.”

MCC did just that, but it wasn’t quite enough to dethrone the defending district champion Eagles, who emerged with a 49-38 home court victory in a Class D district semifinal contest.

Calvary now advances to the district finals at home Friday at 7 p.m. against Muskegon Heights Academy. The Tigers advanced to the finals with a 64-12 win over West Michigan Environmental Science.

Fruitport Calvary’s Emily Wenser is guarded by MCC’s Talia Tyler. Photo/Kristine Tyler

Calvary Christian jumped out to a quick lead on Wednesday, relying on its top three post players to take a 12-8 after the first quarter.

The Eagles’ frontline of Brionna Johnson, Kelsey Richards and Lizzie Cammenga combined for all the team’s points, as well as eight rebounds and four blocks in the first eight minutes.

Richards and Cammenga then combined for all 12 second quarter points as Calvary went to halftime holding a 24-19 advantage.

“We were working the ball around really good and were able to find each other,” said Cammenga, who led the Eagles with 22 points, eight rebounds and six blocks. “We played pretty good and we were able to get out and control their 3-point shooters.”

Muskegon Catholic turned up the pressure on defense to start the third quarter, and finally caught up to Calvary. The Crusaders took a 27-26 lead, their first of the game, after back-to-back baskets from Lauren Doriot and Isabelle Bertolone.

But that didn’t last long. Cammenga’s 3-point play put the Eagles back in front for good, and Calvary led 33-29 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Isabelle Bertolone drives up the court for MCC. Photo/Kristine Tyler

Unable to cut into Calvary’s lead, MCC was forced to foul, which only delayed the inevitable.

The Eagles hit 9-of-15 free throws in the fourth, including 5 of 8 in the final 1:50 of the game, to ice the victory.

The Eagles finished 10-for-19 from the line, while Catholic was 0-3.

“In the second half we got back into (the game), but Calvary turned to the press and that turned us over more than we would’ve liked,” MCC coach Matt Callow said. “When you don’t get good shots, that hurts you offensively.

Calvary Christian, which improved to 18-3 on the season, got 19 points and four assists from Richards and 14 rebounds from Johnson.

Doriot led MCC with 14 points and 13 rebounds, Bertolone had nine points, Liz Isom finished with five assists and Zoie Price had seven rebounds.

Muskegon Catholic finished the season with an 11-10 record.