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The Crusaders cruised to a convincing 53-34 victory over West Perry int he opening round of the District 3 Class AAA playoffs on Wednesday, February 17, 2016. John Buffone

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LANCASTER — The standard postseason philosophy usually goes something like, “go big or go home.”

As has been the case all season long, the Lancaster Catholic Crusaders took that philosophy to heart.

Doubling up on both the defensive pressure as well as West Perry’s 6-foot-3 center, the No. 7 Crusaders handled the No. 10 Mustangs 53-34 Wednesday night to advance in the District 3 Triple-A playoffs.

Lancaster Catholic (25-1) will face a familiar foe in second-seeded Northern Lebanon (24-2) in Saturday’s quarterfinal scheduled at 7:30 p.m. at Garden Spot High School.

The Crusaders handed Northern Lebanon both of its losses this season, including a 46-34 triumph in the L-L League title game last week. The Vikings prevailed over Milton Hershey, 45-43, in overtime to set up Saturday’s rematch.

“They’re going to come out and we’re going to come out and we’re ready,” said Crusaders’ freshman forward Kiki Jefferson, who scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. “It’s always good to come right back at them.”

The Crusaders were able to regroup quickly after winning Leagues, dominating West Perry (16-7) in the first half by forcing 14 turnovers and shutting down the Mustang’s towering center, Gracie Stauffer.

“We came with a different type of press than we’ve been doing all year,” said Crusaders’ coach Charlie Detz. “It’s something we put in yesterday actually. The girls in that locker room, they’re so good at understanding game plan and going out and executing it.”

Catholic broke an 8-all tie late in the first quarter on Corina Rivera’s athletic layup around Stauffer, before Jefferson’s steal and easy layup gave the Crusaders a 12-8 heading into the second.

The Crusaders proceeded to hold the Mustangs to just three second quarter points in building a 25-11 halftime lead.

“They never had (seen) a press like ours,” Jefferson said. “They beat us about half of the time but we just came back (with it).”

Meanwhile, Catholic outrebounded the Mustangs 22-9 in the first half in limiting Stauffer to just a pair of boards and zero points at the break.

“We knew we had to box out,” said Jefferson, who had seven boards by halftime. “Our season came easy to us because we were always bigger than (our opponent) but this one we had to put our butt and our gut in and we did.”

Stauffer would eventually finish with 10 points, nine rebounds, and four blocks, but Catholic had already expanded its lead to 37-11 mid-third quarter on Rivera’s steal and layup.

Also contributing to the victory were starters Julia Breit (10 points), Annaliese Schreder (five points), and Lauren Mills (four points) as the Crusaders shot 19-of-26 at the free-throw line.

Not to be overlooked was center Caroline Stauffer’s interior defense on Stauffer.

“We had someone behind and in front of her the whole time,” Detz said. “Not only do you not give her offensive position, you don’t give her offensive rebounding position. That was huge. We were able to put pressure on the guards and still have the two bigs on her in the paint. It worked out pretty well.”

The Mustangs got a team-high 12 points from junior Meridith Brown, as well as eight fourth-quarter points form Ericka Morgan.

The only other damage came from Stauffer, especially with her second-quarter collision with Jefferson, leaving the Crusaders’ freshman temporarily hobbled.

“I just know I need to get into the weight room, and I need to get bigger,” said Jefferson, who as a 5-foot-11 freshman still has room to grow. “But I’m feeling great.”

So, too, are the rest of the Crusaders, who are aiming for even bigger things when the District tournament continues Saturday.

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Lancaster Catholic 53, West Perry 34

West Perry (34)

Meredith Brown 4 4-6 12, Gracie Stauffer 3 4-7 10, Ericka Morgan 2 2-2 8, Haylee Reisinger 1 0-0 3, Savannah Urich 0 1-3 1, Renee Cless 0 0-2 0, Morgan Stum 0 0-0 0. Totals 10 11-20 34.

Lancaster Catholic (53)

Kiki Jefferson 7 8-11 23, Julia Breit 3 4-5 10, Lily Fritz 2 0-0 5, Annaliese Schreder 1 3-5 5, Corina Rivera 2 0-1 4, Lauren Mills 0 4-4 4, Caroline Scarff 1 0-0 2, Crista Ricci 0 0-0 0, Peyton Jacquis 0 0-0 0, Molly Hackman 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 19-26 53.

WP _ 08 _ 03 _ 07 _ 16 _ — _ 34

LC _ 12 _ 13 _ 17 _ 11 _ — _ 53

3-Point Goals — West Perry 3 (Ericka Morgan 2, Haylee Reisinger); Lancaster Catholic 2 (Kiki Jefferson, Lily Fritz)

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