Feb. 26—CRESAPTOWN — As Grace’s Emma Smith walked to the free-throw line early in the second half against Calvary, the forthcoming shots were simultaneously significant and not at all.
Smith made both, breaking a 37-0 run and a nearly 16-minute scoreless drought, but by that time the result was unalterable. For about two quarters, the Eagles were perfect in every phase of the game.
In an affair so lopsided the running clock was turned on early in the second half, Calvary cruised to a 55-12 win over Grace in its final regular-season matchup to improve to 14-0.
“This is the first Calvary team to go undefeated,” Eagles head coach Shawn Ricker said. “I know it’s a shortened season, but to go undefeated in our conference was a huge accomplishment.
“I’m just proud of the girls. We told them tonight, ‘Go out and give 100%, celebrate tonight with your family and enjoy tomorrow. It’s playoff time.’ … After tonight, they look good.”
Grace started the game up 4-2 after field goals from Marlie Snyder and Smith; then, Calvary put on a defensive exhibition.
Even after tallying the final 15 points of the first quarter and all 20 points in the second to lead 37-4 at the half, the coaching didn’t stop. When Cassandra Cessna committed the foul putting Smith — who led the Knights with six points — at the line to break the drought, a jovial Cessna smiled as Ricker asked, “Why are we fouling?”
“They don’t want anyone to score on them, they don’t even want anyone to get to the paint in our house,” Ricker said. “They’re really doing well on their switches. Tonight we were really working on boxing out and jumping for rebounds.
“That’s how you win games, one shot and that’s all you get.”
While the defense was impenetrable, Madi Dayton and Bethany Carrington seemingly put the ball through the net whenever they wanted.
Dayton tallied 20 points on 10 field goals, adding 11 rebounds for a double-double with six assists and five steals. The senior forward is now just 28 shy of 2,000 for her career.
“I talked a few games ago about how it’s time for her to get to playoff mode and get ready. She’s there,” Ricker said.
Carrington delivered another solid performance as a distributor with a game-high nine assists. She also garnered 14 points, seven rebounds and a pair of steals.
The freshman is getting more comfortable by the game.
“She impresses me every game,” Ricker said. “She’s growing as an athlete, as a point guard. She sees the court, she runs the court in about four steps she’s so long-legged. And she instinctively fits in our offense of get it and go, get into the fast-break.”
Though the duo delivered the bulk of the offense with 34 of Calvary’s 55 points, the supporting cast is rounding into form at the perfect time.
Shutdown defender Kaitlyn Wilson is figuring it out on the other end with 15 points on seven buckets. Cessna, Sadie Strawderman and Emmy Wilson each had two points apiece.
“(Carrington’s) more confidant than she’s been at any point in her career right now. She’s making the buckets when she’s open, and that’s what we need,” Ricker said. “We need more than two scorers. Right now we’re getting three to four, and five rebounders.”
Now Calvary turns to the Mason-Dixon Christian Conference tournament, which it will be heavy favorites to win for a third consecutive season.
That journey will begin against No. 8 seed Broadfording on Tuesday.
“Anybody that comes here, they want to beat us,” Ricker said. “Opponents always play great the first quarter, and I tell the girls, ‘Just let their adrenaline run off.’
“Our goal is to make it to Saturday night.”
Alex Rychwalski is a sportswriter at the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @arychwal.