Newport, ME-- Courtney Drinkwater scored 16 points to lead the Belfast Lions girls basketball team to a 58-55 victory over the Nokomis Warriors on Monday afternoon.
"She (Drinkwater) stepped up huge. She has been struggling lately. She hasn't been hitting her shots,"Belfast coach Stan Sturgis said. "We told her to keep shooting. Today she was huge. I am glad for her."
The Warriors scored the first six points of the game and never trailed in the first half. The biggest Nokomis lead was 20-13 with three minutes left in the half.
Anna Mackenzie gave the Warriors a 37-32 lead with 1:56 remaining in the third quarter.
The Lions took over from there. They scored the final nine points of the third quarter to take a 41-37 lead. Belfast built the lead to as high as nine points in the fourth quarter.
"If you look back to the first half, we did not execute offensively. I told them before that Nokomis is not going to help you beat them. They are too good of a team,"Sturgis said. "They (Nokomis) are well coached. They have great players. We kept it close in the first half and picked it up defensively, we executed offensively and hit our free throws down the stretch."
The Warriors outscored Belfast 10-4 in the final 1:45 of the game and had a missed desperation three point shot at the buzzer that would have sent the game into overtime.
Getting a win over Nokomis gives the Lions a big boost in the class B MPA heal point standings. The Warriors came in with only one loss on the season.
"We knew this was going to be a tough game. We knew we had to give 110 percent and pick it up on defense,"Drinkwater said. "Throughout my entire high school career Nokomis has beat us by a bunch so this is a big deal. It is very exciting for all of us."
Belfast came into the game seeded seventh in the class B standings. This win should move them into the top five.
"This is huge. I have been preaching since summer ball that it is all about hard work. If you work your heads off good things will happen. I do not know if they had it in their heads that they could play with Nokomis. Even though they should have,"Sturgis said. "They fought hard, they deserve. Those kids work so hard to be a good basketball team and they have done that. I love all our kids."
Drinkwater shot 6-7 from the field and 3-4 from the free throw line. She also had two steals. Katrina Lapham put in 14 points (6-8 FT) and dished out four assists.
Lexi Nelligan also finished in double figures with 10 points (6-7 FT), four rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Mckenzie Thibodeau chipped in with eight points (4-5 FG), four rebounds and one block.
Madison Cummings contributed four points, four assists, two rebounds, two steals and one block for the Lions. Mariah Sturgis and Ashley Littlefield scored three points each. Littlefield also pulled down a team high five rebounds.
Belfast (9-3) will next play on Friday, January 25th when they host Gardiner.
"We have a tough game on Friday. We have to play Gardiner at home and that will be a tough task,"Sturgis said. "We need to try and feed off this."
Nokomis out rebounded Belfast 40-18. The Warriors shot 18-62 (29 percent) from the field including 2-20 (10 percent) from three point range.
Mackenzie led the Warriors with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Taylor Shaw chipped in with 15 points and seven rebounds. Kelsie Richards added eight points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Lindsay Whitney contributed five points, four rebounds and three assists. Mikayla Charters added five points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks. Traci Carson and Kylie Richards scored two points each.
Nokomis (11-2) will next play on Tuesday, January 29th when they host Mount View.