NEWPORT — In guards Zane Bielenberg and Stan Sturgis, the Belfast Area High School boys basketball team has one of the best backcourt tandems in Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B. The duo was at its best Friday night at Nokomis, especially when the Lions needed them in the fourth quarter of a close game.

Bielenberg scored 12 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, and Sturgis scored eight of his 21 in the final quarter, leading Belfast to a 77-68 victory. It was the second win of the season for Belfast (7-7) over Nokomis (7-6).

“Those are our two go-to guys on offense. Outside or driving to the hoops, they’ve been offensive forces,” Belfast coach Marty Messer said of his backcourt pair.

With the score tied 61-61 with three and a half minutes to play, Sturgis made a baseline 3-pointer, his fifth three of the game, to give the Lions the lead for good. Messer said while Sturgis’ offensive input was a key to the win, his defensive effort was equally impressive. Sturgis guarded Nokomis high-scoring guard Josh Smestad, and helped hold the Warriors junior to 15 points, none in the fourth quarter.

“Stan had some big threes for us. He’s a gutsy performer. His offense was great, but his defense was even better today. It’s tough guarding Smestad, and he did a great job on him all night,” Messer said.

Belfast sank 11 consecutive free throws in the final three minutes to clinch the win.

“They do a really good job involving everyone. They share the ball and they shoot the ball extremely well,” Nokomis coach Ryan Martin said.

Belfast led by as many as 11 points midway through the second quarter, 27-16, before the Warriors began chipping away at the deficit. Nokomis cut the Lions lead to 33-26 at the half. With 26 points in the third, including five of their 10 3-pointers on the night, the Warriors rallied to take the lead. Jacob Erskine’s three at the buzzer gave Nokomis a 52-51 lead entering the fourth, and Martin said the key to the rally was defense.

“It was about toughness. It was about kind of taking it personally that they had come in here and played really, really well and were up 11. The halftime talk was to dig in, get in the stance, and not just be on defense, play defense,” Martin said.

In the timeout between the third and fourth quarters, Messer told his team to relax, and remember it had four timeouts.

“If they start a run, we’re going to stop it. Go out and keep playing hard,” Messer recalled saying to the Lions in their huddle.

A Zach Hartsgrove (21 points) basket pushed the Warriors lead to 54-51, but Bielenberg reeled off six consecutive points to help Belfast retake the lead. Garrett Hamlin had 11 rebounds for the Lions.

Brad Allen chipped in 13 points for Nokomis, while Alex Baird added 11.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM