If competitive, tight, exciting high school basketball action is what fans came to see Friday night at Belfast Area High School, not many of them went home disappointed.

That is because the Rockland and host Belfast varsity hoop squads played a late-season doubleheader that included both a competitive girls game and a boys contest that was not decided until the final few seconds.

In the boys game, Rockland (8-8) jumped to a quick first-quarter lead, but the Lions (1-14) stayed the course and nearly upset the Tigers. In the end, solid free-throw shooting by senior Chris Nolan proved the difference as the Tigers kept their regional playoff hopes alive with a hard-fought 61-56 victory.

The girls game was close during the first half before the host Lions (3-12) slowly pulled away over the final 16 minutes en route to a 37-28 win. Rockland, which was shooting for its first win on the campaign, is 0-15.

The Tiger boys are the only one of the four teams that played Friday night with legitimate postseason aspirations. As of Saturday morning, Rockland was 11th (45.3704 points) in the Maine Principals’ Association Heal Point Standings for Eastern Class B. The top 10 teams qualify for the playoffs.

Hermon is 10th (7-10, 49.3827 points), a mere 4.0123 points ahead of the Tigers. Rockland probably will need to beat visiting Lincoln Academy of Newcastle (10-6, 64.8148 points, 7th in Western Class B) on Tuesday, Feb. 2 to have a chance to reach the postseason.

Belfast is 17th (4.3210 points). Defending state Class B champion Camden Hills (15-1, 116.6667 points) is first in the 19-team region.

For the two girls teams who faced off Friday, Belfast is 18th (5.4321 points) and Rockland 19th (last, no points) in Eastern Class B. Mount Desert Island (15-2, 124.2284 points) is first in the 19-team region.

Boys game

If the first few minutes of a game were the true indicator of how a content would end up, Friday’s encounter between Rockland and Belfast would have been a lopsided win for the Tigers. However, the Lions did not let the early going dictate how the remainder of the contest would go.

Rockland scored off the opening tip and took a quick 8-0 lead, causing Belfast coach Scott Benzie to call two timeouts in the first 1:34 of the game. But the Lions settled down, climbed back into the game and ultimately fell short in the end, losing 61-56.

Keying the Tigers was Nolan with 26 points, including two 3-pointers and 12-of-12 from the foul line. He made six foul shots in the final 43 seconds to lift Rockland to the win. Also scoring for the visitors were Aidan Hadley with 13 points; Dylan Meklin, 10; Joe Nelsen, Lucas Morrill and Josh Harjula, all three; Ryan Ecker, two, and David Harrison, one. Rockland made 16-of-22 foul shots (73 percent).

After connecting on two 3-pointers in the first quarter, Nolan tallied 20 points over the next three stanzas, including 16 in the second half. Hadley also was key, scoring many of his hoops on backdoor cuts to the hoop, before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

Hadley and Meklin grabbed a bundle of rebounds.

For the Lions, Jack Davis poured in 17 points; Derrick Bernosky, 11; Adam Heroux, nine; Brad Reed, eight; Eric Peters, five; and Eric Mitchell, Josh Beal and Dustin Howes, all two. Belfast netted four 3-pointers, including two from Bernosky. The Lions also made 18-of-27 foul shots (67 percent).

Mitchell (10 rebounds), Reed (4 rebounds, 2 assists), Davis (6 rebounds, 3 assists), Bernosky (5 rebounds), Peters (4 rebounds) and Heroux (6 rebounds) were statistical leaders.

The Tigers defeated the Lions twice this season, including 76-35 earlier in the campaign in Rockland.

Girls game

Belfast led 8-4 and 18-14 at the first two quarter breaks. At that point, it appeared the game would be close to the end, but the Lions kept the Tigers at arm’s length over the final 16 minutes, including leading 25-18 after three stanzas.

The game was between relatively young, hungry squads trying to improve and build for the future. The difference for Belfast was the ability to break Rockland’s fullcourt defensive pressure.

For the Lions, Lexi Nelligan dumped in 12 points; Caroline Carr, eight; Whitney Cross and Kelsey Woodbury, both four; Hayley Rae, three; and Megan Curtis, Makayla Cummings and Morgan Mansfield, all two. BAHS made 8-of-9 free throws (89 percent), including all four from Carr. Nelligan and Carr both scored six points in the final quarter to keep Belfast ahead of Rockland.

Statistically for the Lions, Mansfied had three rebounds and five assists; Cummings six rebounds; Cross two rebounds, three steals and two assists; Carr seven rebounds; Nelligan four rebounds and four steals; and Katrina Lapham three assists.

For the Tigers, Hannah Sirois and Allie Curtis both scored 10 points; Macy MacArthur, four; and Hannah Plourde and Leia Dennison, both two. The Tigers made 4-of-8 free throws (50 percent). Sirois added 10 rebounds, MacArthur six, Plourde seven, Dennison five and Hayli Kinney three. Curtis and MacArthur both chipped in two steals and Brighde Curtin had two assists.

With 1:46 left in the fourth quarter, Curtis made two free throws to bring Rockland within 33-28, but Nelligan hit a jumper with 1:19 remaining to give the hosts a 35-28 cushion.

Belfast defeated Rockland twice this season, including 50-42 earlier in the campaign in Rockland.

Click for more photos from the Rockland at Belfast boys game.

Click for more photos from the Rockland at Belfast girls game.

Village NetMedia Regional Editor/Sports Director Ken Waltz can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at kwaltz@villagesoup.com.