ENOLA >> Greencastle-Antrim's girls basketball team knew what was coming when it faced off against Lancaster Catholic in the District 3 Class AAA quarterfinals on Sunday.
The Crusaders pressured the Blue Devils from start to finish, but unlike last year, when it lost by seven to Lancaster in the quarterfinals, Greencastle had enough answers. Hannah Crist and Jenay Faulkner got off to a hot start, and the Blue Devils made just enough plays down the stretch to pull out a 45-41 win.
With the win, Greencastle (22-3) punched its first-ever ticket to the PIAA Tournament and will face No. 1 seed West York (27-0) in the district semifinals on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at the Giant Center in Hershey.
Crist and Faulkner set the tone early for the Devils. The duo broke the Crusader press time after time and took every shot in the quarter. They combined to go 6 of 13 to give Greencastle an early 16-9 cushion. Crist had two 3-pointers and finished with nine points in the quarter, and Faulkner had seven.
"We all wanted to go to states. That was one of our goals this year," Faulkner said. "We were able to get by their pressure pretty easily in the first quarter, and that gave us a lot of space in transition."
Greencastle coach Mike Rhine said, "Hannah and Jenay have played so many games together over the years. We put it on them to break the press, they handled it well and got us off to a good start."
The Blue Devils used a 6-0 run to start the second quarter and took a 22-9 lead, but that's when Lancaster Catholic (21-4) started having success with the press. Greencastle turned the ball over eight times in the second quarter, and the Crusaders cut the deficit to 10 at halftime. Greencastle finished the game with 25 turnovers, but the Crusader offense never took advantage.
"Give them a lot of credit, they came out and made some shots early," Lancaster Catholic coach Charlie Detz said, "but we missed way too many easy shots. Our press started to wear them down, but we missed too many open shots and layups to win this game."
The Crusaders finished just 15 of 58 from the floor (25.8 percent) and were 1-for-13 from three. Erin Holt, Lancaster's best 3-point shooter who was averaging 9.75 points per game, had the only 3-pointer for Lancaster, but those were her only points. Crist guarded her for much of the game, and Holt finished just 1-for-10 from the field.
Crist said, "My job coming in was just to focus on her and nothing else. We knew she could shoot threes, so I just focused on slowing her down."
Greencastle continued to lead throughout the second half, but the Crusaders press started to take its toll. Lancaster Catholic cut the score to 39-34 late in the fourth, but Crist and the Blue Devils wouldn't be denied. Crist was 7-for-8 from the foul line in the final quarter, Meghan Hirneisen hit two big buckets and Katie Gelsinger hit a late free throw to put the Devils up 44-37. Crist led Greencastle with 19 points and five assists, and she also grabbed six rebounds. Faulkner finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, and Gelsinger had seven points and 14 boards.
"Most girls go to the free throw line and look at it as a break. Not Hannah," Rhine said. "She stayed focused throughout the game, kept her form and knocked down some big free throws."
Detz said, "Faulkner was our main priority on defense and then it was their post player (Gelsinger). Crist was third, but judging by how she played, she probably should have been our first. She had a great game."
Now, it's on the Giant Center for the Devils, and then onto states for the first time in history.
"Hershey's the sweetest place on earth, right?" Rhine said with a smile. "You don't just walk to the top, you have to earn it. I told these girls at halftime that this game was going to be a battle, and it was. But if you want anything worth having, shouldn't it be tough?"
NOTES >> Caroline Scarff led Lancaster Catholic with 12 points ... The Blue Devils finished 14-for-41 (34 percent) from the floor and 4 of 15 from beyond the arc ... Greencastle outrebounded the Crusaders 38-24 ... Lancaster Catholic will face York Suburban in the consolation bracket.
LANCASTER CATHOLIC (41)
Hannah Knolton 3-10 1-4 7, Alayna Nicklaus 2-8 3-3 7, Caroline Scarff 5-12 2-3 12, Lauren Mills 1-9 2-2 4, Erin Holt 1-10 0-0 3, Julia Breit 3-7 2-4 8, Annaliese Schreder 0-2 0-0 0, Corina Rivera 0-1 0-2 0, Izzy Miller 0 0-0 0.
Totals — 15-58 10-18 41.
Hannah Crist 4-12 9-12 19, Jenay Faulkner 5-12 1-3 13, Katie Gelsinger 3-6 1-2 7, Meghan Hirneisen 2-6 0-2 4, Jane Herman 0-4 0-0 0, Hannah Zimmerman 0-0 2-4 2, Shelby Stouffer 0-1 0-0 0.
Totals — 14-41 13-23 45.
3-point goals — LC 1-13 (Holt), Ga 4-15 (Crist 2, Faulkner 2).