There is nothing like an exciting, down-to-the-wire, early-season high school basketball game to get the competitive juices flowing and that is just what Waldo County opponents Mount View and Searsport provided on Tuesday night, Jan. 19 in an opening court clash.

The contest, the first for the squads in the pandemic-altered 2020-21 campaign, was close throughout, as the host Mustangs led by eight points at halftime before the Vikings, playing about 25 miles from home, rallied over the final 16 minutes, then held on for a 39-37 win over the final frantic few seconds.

Watch video and see more than 50 photos below.

Click to watch first half of game.

Click to watch second half of game.

The game, held in a mostly empty gymnasium, with no spectators and participants and coaches mandated to wear face coverings due to COVID-19, was tied 8-8 after the first quarter before Mount View led 22-14 at halftime and 28-26 after three stanzas. Searsport used a 13-9 surge over the final eight minutes to nail down the victory.

Makenzie Alley netted 15 points, and dished out a bundle of assists, in a stellar all-around performance to key the Vikings, while Kyla Perkins added nine points; Emma Spiegel, eight; Sarah Gent, six; and Emily Mello, one. Alley and Perkins covered 3-pointers for the visitors.

For the home-standing Mustangs, Hannah Coolen poured in 21 points to key all scorers, while Kricket Thompson added nine and Hannah Ferreira seven. Coolen also drilled a trifecta of treys, while she grabbed seven rebounds. Ferreira also nabbed seven caroms and added a 3-pointer, while Thompson, who towered over most players at 6 feet 3 inches, controlled the boards at both ends and finished with 19 rebounds.

The game essentially was decided at the free-throw line, as Mount View finished 1-of-8 (13 percent) from the charity stripe and Searsport 5-of-9 (56 percent).

Mount View made it interesting down the stretch as Coolen drove hard to the hoop for two points with 54.1 seconds left and connected on a 3-pointer on an inbounds play with 16.3 seconds remaining, but missed the ensuing foul shot, which would have been a rare four-point play. The Vikings held on from that point.

In the final frantic minute, players from both sides hustled and scrambled all over the court, including diving and running into one another, in an attempt to gain control of the precious basketball. Although the teams are not usual opponents, as 374-student Mount View plays in Class B North and 156-student Searsport Class C North, they battled hard against one another in the season’s first game.

Despite coming out on the losing end, Mount View coach Mark Cooper said his student-athletes were thrilled to be back on the court, a sentiment surely shared by coaches and players on both sides.

"It was great to finally get out on the court and play someone else besides ourselves,” Cooper said. “The players have been working hard and getting acclimated to the mask situation. Our ball pressure and defense were good, we worked hard rebounding and trying to push the ball up the court. We got plenty of open looks but just couldn't get our shots to go in.”

He said the ‘Stangs made 16-of-76 (21 percent) from the field and 1-of-8 from the foul line.

Cooper said the hosts trailed by seven points with two minutes to go and fought back.

“We had the ball with nine seconds to go with a chance to tie but couldn't convert,” he said. “Our players fought until the end and never gave up. We are a young team with only one senior, three sophomore starters, and two freshmen who saw significant playing time tonight. Overall, it would have been nice to get the win, but we are very pleased with much of what we were able to do tonight and are looking to improve game by game."

The Mustangs also played a makeup game with Waterville the following night.

Waterville 54, Mount View 44

At Waterville Jan. 20, the Purple Panthers prowled to a 10-point win over the Mustangs. Waterville led 22-6, 35-18 and 41-34 at the quarter breaks.

Hannah Coolen led the ‘Stangs with a 14-point, 16-rebound effort, while Kricket Thompson added eight points and eight rebounds; Syd Vogel, eight points; Hannah Ferriera, six points; Madison Roux, three points; Madison Bisson, two points; and Lydia Bryant, one point.

Kali Thompson scored 15 points for the Purple Panthers, while Mara Von Oesen added 12; Kiera Gilman, 11; Paige St. Pierre, seven; Coltrane McRae and Abby Saucier, three; and Lindsay Given and Caitlynn Smith, two.

Mount View was 12-of-26 (46 percent) from the charity stripe and Waterville 9-of-18 (50 percent).