In a rare, in-season battle of the Passagassawakeag River, the Belfast and Searsport girls basketball teams took to the hardwood on Thursday, Jan. 21 as the Lions searched of their first win and the Vikings hoping to avoid their initial loss.

The high school court game looked to get away from the Vikings in the middle stanzas, as the Lions led by as many as 19 points.

And while the hosts made a late surge to cut their deficit to 10 points, Belfast’s Lillie Mitchell hit a boatload of free throws down the stretch to help the visitors pull away for the first win of the season, a 52-38 triumph over the Vikings.

Watch video below and see nearly 50 photos below.

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Belfast held a 10-7 edge after the first quarter and extended that advantage to 27-13 at halftime and 36-20 after three quarters.

Mitchell led all scorers with a 26-point effort for the Lions, while Madison Farris added six; Krista Staples, five; Hailee Lindelof, four; Halle Tripp, three; Emma Waldron, Trisha Bailey, Jaiden Philbrook and Adria Barrows, two; and Lindsey Gouchnour, one.

Makenzie Alley keyed the Vikings with 21 points, while Abby Astbury and Emma Spiegel added five; Emily Mello, three; and Kyla Perkins and Lily Nadeau, two.

Belfast was 12-of-21 (57 percent) from the foul line, while Searsport netted 5-of-13 attempts (38 percent).

Belfast and Searsport do not play regular-season games against one another because the Lions toil in Class B and Vikings Class C. A regional schedule predicated by the pandemic means the Waldo County schools will face off this winter.

On Thursday, a back-and-forth first quarter came to an end when Waldron tapped in an offensive putback to beat the buzzer off a missed free throw, which gave the Lions a three-point cushion.

Belfast used that momentum heading into the second quarter to go on a 7-1 run to start the stanza and 10-4 burst to end it, which allowed it to seize control of the contest.

Alley started the quarter with a foul shot for Searsport before Mitchell canned a trey, Lindelof converted an offensive putback and Mitchell a baseline jumper to give the Lions a 17-8 edge.

Searsport scored four of the game’s next six points after a coast-to-coast layup by Alley and a bucket from Astbury, but offensive putbacks by Farris and Lindelof, in addition to a long jumper from Bailey and an open layup converted by Staples, helped Belfast pad its lead.

In the fourth quarter, Belfast saw its lead swell to 19 points after Mitchell came up with a steal and converted a fast-break layup, but Searsport went on a 10-2 run — with all points coming off the steady hand of Alley — as the Vikings suddenly found themselves down only 45-35 with 3:40 to play.

However, the Lions slowly pulled away as Mitchell scored the game’s next six points — four of which came from the foul line — as the visitors distanced themselves from the hosts.