Despite four straight undefeated conference seasons and six straight district titles, a seemingly eternal meeting with Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart routinely doomed the Eagles’ playoff runs. Four straight seasons, from 2014-18, Calvary fell to Sacred Heart at the end of the season. In those four seasons, the Eagles totaled just 16 losses.
This year’s playoffs began like most others for Calvary. West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science forfeited their first-round match before the Eagles walloped Muskegon Heights 75-12 in the district semifinals. They earned their district trophy with a 74-49 victory over Muskegon Catholic Central, before dismantling St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran, 45-22, in the regional semifinals Monday night.
Tonight, they face off with the tournament hosts, Mendon. The Hornets have buzzed to a 19-3 overall record this year, dropping a pair of contests to fellow Southwest 10 Conference competitor Centreville (47-34, 37-33) and one to Bloomingdale in the regular-season finale (37-34).
The Hornets are enjoying a resurgent year, after finishing just 8-13 last year and falling out of the playoffs in the opening round of the district tournament. They last cracked the regional tournament in 2017, finishing the year 10-10 with a loss in the regional semifinal round. Their last regional title came in 2014, when they defeated Adrian Madison before losing to Gobles in the state quarterfinals to finish off a 20-3 campaign.
On the year, Mendon averages 48.23 points per game, while holding their opponents to just 28.36. Their playoff road so far includes victories over Burr Oak (6-15) by a score of 68-29, Decatur (12-10) 45-26, and Martin (17-4) 48-45 in overtime.
The Eagles were able to score at a higher rate this season, thanks to the point production of Kelsey Richards and rebounding strength of Brionna Johnson. They put up 54.65 points per game, but gave up more points on average than Mendon at 36.39 per game.
Senior Hayley Kramer led the Hornets in their overtime thriller Monday night with 16 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter, 11 rebounds and three assists, making her a player to watch for tonight’s contest.
Calvary and Mendon have not met in the last 10 seasons and had no opponents in common this season.
Tonight’s regional champion earns a trip to the Division 4 state quarterfinals at Richland Gull Lake on March 19, meeting the winner of Portland St. Patrick (18-6) and Adrian Lenawee Christian (22-2). From there, the semifinals and finals will be played at Van Noord Arena on the campus of Calvin College.