What a difference a year makes.

The Belfast girls basketball team has been one of the lower-ranked teams in Eastern Class B in recent years, but the Lions have roared out of the gate this season under the tutelage of first-year coach Stan Sturgis.

Belfast continued to roll through the early stages of the regular season Friday night, Dec. 21 against Waldo County-rival Mount View of Thorndike and put the game out of reach by halftime en route to a 67-28 road victory.

Click for photos from this game.

The Mustang defense held Belfast at bay in the first quarter as the Lions grabbed a 9-3 lead, but the visitors opened up their advantage over the next eight minutes, taking a 28-10 lead into the locker room at halftime. The Lions extended their advantage to 50-21 after three quarters.

"We started out slow, but then we picked it up and we kept it up," said Sturgis. "The style that we play is fullcourt for four quarters, offensively and defensively. That's just how we play and it's about playing the game the right way, whether you're up 40 or down 40. You play the game the right way, with everything you've got. And they did that [tonight]."

Lexi Nelligan keyed Belfast with a 17-point, 16-rebound performance, while she added two blocked shots, two assists and a steal in the win. Nelligan has averaged 17.8 points though the team's first five contests.

"She's starting to make a name for herself with her athletic ability," said Sturgis. "She's just got to finish more consistently and bring that fire every night and, when she does, the numbers speak for themselves. She's a great basketball player."

Also contributing to the Lion attack were McKenzie Thibodeau (10 points, 5 rebounds, steal), Ashley Littlefield (10 points, 4 rebounds, assist, steal), Courtney Drinkwater (11 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 7 steals), Mariah Sturgis (7 points, 3 rebounds, assist, 2 steals), Maddy Cummings (6 points, 2 rebounds, 5 steals), Katrina Lapham (3 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, steal) and Breann Cummings (3 points, 5 rebounds, assist).

For Mount View, Janelle Thornley netted nine points, while Courtney Morse added eight; Alexis Morse, four; Megan Elkins, three; and Brooke Tripp and Jenny Nadeau, both two.

The Lions were 9-of-17 (53 percent) from the foul line, while the Mustangs were 9-of-12 (75 percent).

While Belfast is happy to be out to such a strong start record-wise, the team remains focused on its ultimate goal.

"I think the girls are enjoying it, but the girls just have to remember it's not how you start, it's how you finish," said Sturgis. "I want them to enjoy every win, learn from every loss and hopefully get a shot at the playoffs this year."

In the Maine Principals' Association Heal Point Standings for Eastern Class B, Belfast (4-1, 5.9568 points) is third, while Mount View (1-4, 0.5556 points) is 12th. Presque Isle (5-0, 10.8025 points), the defending state Class B champion, is first in the 19-team region. The top 13 teams qualify for the playoffs.

Courier Publications sports staff can be reached by phone at 207-594-4401 or by email at sports@courierpublicationsllc.com.