PASADENA — A slow start wasn't going to be an issue for the St. Monica Academy boys' basketball team.
Instead, St. Monica went on a power surge that electrified the team and its home crowd inside the packed gymnasium at New Revelation Baptist Church.
Fourth-seeded St. Monica received 24 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks from Peter Ford and 20 points and three steals from Charlie Boles to roll to a 71-50 win on Wednesday in a CIF Southern Section Division V-A first-round contest.
St. Monica (19-4) will meet host Shandon, which had a first-round bye, in a second-round game on Friday.
Westmark (10-15) jumped out to a 12-4 lead just past the midway point of the first quarter before St. Monica closed out the half on a 30-6 run to take a 34-18 lead.
"It took a little while to get going, but then we got on track and started scoring a bunch of points off of turnovers," St. Monica coach Peter Grimm said. "We had a game plan and we weren't executing it right away, so we started to press on defense and we got on that big run."
Some stellar defense by Francis Mirales turned the momentum in favor of the Crusaders, who didn't qualify for the playoffs last season.
Mirales forced three turnovers in the second quarter and the Crusaders capitalized on each one to pull away from the Lions.
Ford and Boles paved the way on offense to further frustrate Westmark, which finished fifth in the Omega League. A steal and layup by Boles tied the game at 12 with 40 seconds left in the first quarter.
"I think being sharp on defense is what got the team going," said Boles, who had 16 first-half points. "You get those few turnovers and all of a sudden you start to feed off of each other."
Ford heated up in the second quarter, scoring on a layup to make it 18-14 with 7:02 to go in the second quarter before making a three-pointer from the right side to extend the advantage to 26-16 with 4:30 left.
"Maybe we were a little jittery in the first quarter, but then you start to feel better about yourself after you make a couple of shots, " said Ford, who made four three-pointers. "We got on that nice run and didn't stop after that. It's good to get that first playoff win and we'll see what we can do in the next game."
Ford made a three-pointer with 1:01 remaining in the third quarter to give the Crusaders a 57-32 lead.
The Crusaders received six points apiece from Abraham Lemmon and Sam Gutierrez and eight rebounds from Freddy Sayegh.
Westmark got a team-high 16 points from Brandon Owen, 12 from Satchel Stern, nine from Cole McNeil and seven from James Norris.