That’s one win down and four victories to go for Lancaster Catholic’s girls basketball team, which got its PIAA Class 3A state-playoff journey started quite convincingly Friday night.
After a 10-day layoff, the host Crusaders, fresh off winning their record-tying 20th District 3 championship, motored past District 12 fourth-seed Pickett Mastery Charter North 68-11.
Catholic (24-3 overall) was up 24-1 after the first quarter, closed the first half on a 19-0 blitz for a 47-5 lead at the break, and had a 59-6 cushion when Molly Wolownik beat the third-quarter horn with a stick-back bucket.
The game was never in doubt; the Crusaders forced 33 turnovers, didn’t allow Pickett (8-13) to get a field goal until three and a half minutes into the second quarter, and Catholic, the L-L League Section 3 champ, out-rebounded the Pumas 31-19.
Up next for the Crusaders is date against District 1 champ New Hope (Solebury) — which toppled District 12 third-seed Masterman — in a second-round game at a neutral site on Tuesday.
One other L-L League team punched its ticket into the second round with a victory on Friday: In Class 6A, Section 1 champ and league finalist Lebanon KO'd D1 runner-up Haverford 48-41.
Meanwhile, Pequea Valley, in 3A, and Manheim Township, in 6A, saw their seasons come to a close with first-round setbacks.
With four more max games out there — and no true juggernaut team to be found in the 3A bracket — Catholic’s goal is crystal clear: Win PIAA gold.
“We hit a rough patch there,” said Catholic’s Stella Higgins, signaling the Crusaders’ 1-2 finish down the stretch, with an L-L League semifinal setback against Lebanon.
“But we’ve definitely regrouped as a team,” she said. “We have our mindset back and we’re staying strong. We all have one goal, and that’s to win the state championship.”
Catholic has the pieces to do it; coach Charlie Detz starts four juniors and a sophomore, and Higgins, another sophomore, is the Crusaders’ top sub. They all defend like crazy — a staple in Catholic’s program — and each player brings something different to the table.
Against Pickett, Mary Bolesky and Rylee Kraft scored 13 points apiece, Autumn Lipson knocked down three 3-pointers, and Lily Lehman and Carleigh Anderson chipped in on defense and made a couple of buckets apiece. Higgins came off the bench to snare eight rebounds.
“At this point — and I know it’s cliche — but we have to worry about what’s in front of us,” Detz said. “It’s a four-game tournament now. We got the first round down, and now it’s a great opportunity for them.”
With so many juniors and sophomores, this Crusaders’ outfit is looking to make a run similar to Catholic’s 2017, 2018 and 2019 postseason sojourns. The 2017 team went to the state semifinals; the 2018 squad went 32-0 and won the PIAA title; and the 2019 club was 30-0 before falling in the state quarterfinals.
“They definitely believe and they have that want,” Detz said. “They really want this. This group has the drive and they’re competitive. They not only want to win these games, but they want to keep getting better.
“Not all teams have that, but this group knows that they want to use this game as a springboard into the next game. It’s a fun group. They believe in each other and they believe in themselves.”
In another Class 3A first-round game Friday:
Imhotep Charter 60, Pequea Valley 37
At Abraham Lincoln in Philadelphia, the Braves trailed by just 28-22 at the break, but Imhotep, the District 12 champ, closed the game on a 20-8 clip and knocked out PV, the third-seed from D3, the Section 4 runner-up and a league quarterfinalist.
Shania Stoltzfus scored 20 points for the Braves, who finished up 22-5 overall after making states for the second year in a row and for the third time in program history.
In Class 6A:
Lebanon 48, Haverford 41
The Cedars are heading to the second round after knocking out the Fords on their come court. Aaliyah Ferrer and Kailah Correa scored 16 points apiece, Zariyah Whigham chipped in with 12 points, and Lebanon (27-2) built a 30-18 halftime lead and made it stand up.
The Cedars will take on D7 third-seed Norwin in a second-round game on Tuesday at a site and time to be announced. Norwin beat D3 third-seed Central Dauphin.
Haverford came into the game at 27-1, and that loss was in the District 1 finale after a glittering 27-0 getaway.
North Allegheny 76, Manheim Township 53
In Wexford, the Blue Streaks were within 13-12 after the first quarter, but the host Tigers — the WPIAL champs — used a 22-8 second-quarter spree for a 35-20 halftime cushion and never looked back, eliminating Township, the D3 seventh-seed and league quarterfinalist.
Ava Byrne (18 points, three 3-pointers), Sarah Kraus (13 points) and Julia Goebig (12 points) paced the Streaks, who finished up 17-11. Byrne will head into her senior season with 762 career points.