TOPSHAM — The Lewiston girls’ basketball team has been all so close to victory on several occasions this season, only to have that carrot yanked away at the last second.

Figure, the Blue Devils fell in a buzzer-beater to Brunswick, and second-half leads against Cony and Skowhegan evaporated away.

Lewiston met up with an injury-depleted Mt. Ararat Eagles squad on Saturday, two winless Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference teams in search for that first win.

It was the Blue Devils that found a way, holding Mt. Ararat to just 31 points in a 42-31 victory, giving Lewiston that all important first victory, with a home date against Oxford Hills scheduled for next Friday.

“It gets that monkey off our back, and the girls feel like they can get it done,” said Lewiston coach Mike Labonte after his team improved to 1-4. “It has been an uphill climb. We have been giving up 60 points a game, and it is hard to get a win when you allow that many points. If we can hold teams in the 30s or 40s, we feel like we can hang around.”

Mt. Ararat entered this season needing to replace four starters lost to graduation, and with last year’s fifth starter Caitlin LaFountain out with a concussion and point guard Katie Labbay sidelined with a leg injury, the Eagles are finding it difficult to put together 32 minutes of solid basketball.

“On a veteran team, or at least a few kids that have had that experience, they could carry us through a little bit, but honestly I have never said before how young we are, but it is a learning curve, with many making the jump from eighth-grade basketball to varsity,” said Mt. Ararat coach Kelly LaFountain, whose 0-5 Eagles host Edward Little on Friday. “It is going to take some time for them to figure out what it is going to take. We’re working and plugging away. We are just waiting for that little bit of luck.”

Eagles run

Mt. Ararat darted out to a 6-3 lead as Kate Guerin swished a pair of short jumpers. Lewiston responded with a 5-0 run, the key basket a hoop and harm by Brie Wilson for a three-point play and an 8-6 Lewiston edge.

The Eagles came back, scoring the final six points of the first frame for a 12-8 lead. Guerin and Allison Melcher each had four points for the hosts.

On Thursday in a 53-24 loss to Mt. Blue, Mt. Ararat scored just three points combined in the second and third quarters. Those frames cost the Eagles again on Saturday as Lewiston outscored Mt. Ararat 15-4 in the second to take a 23-16 lead to the half. A key for Lewiston came when Labonte inserted normal starters Jenessa Talarico and Kristina Blais, along with freshman Morgan Eliason. Blais hit Lewiston’s only trey of the game to put the Blue Devils ahead to stay, 13-12, and finished with seven points in the quarter, with Talarico adding six.

“They’re normally starters, so we knew when their number got called they could get it done,” said Labonte.

“We had to grind and really focus on defense,” said Blais of her team’s success in holding Mt. Ararat to a 7-for-31 shooting performance in the first half.

“I don’t know if it is because we come out all fired up in the first quarter and have a let down in the second, and I don’t know what it is coming out from halftime,” added the Mt. Ararat coach. “We have to figure that out.”

Neither team shot well, or scored much, in the third quarter, with the teams playing to a 6-6 stalemate for a 29-22 Lewiston lead heading to the fourth.

Mt. Ararat made a pair of runs in the final frame, mostly due to hard work in the paint and kicking the ball outside for a 3, with the Eagles finishing with a 34-30 edge in rebounding.

“We have been getting outrebounded every game, something we talk about and work on in practice every day,” said Labonte. “Mt. Ararat does a great job, very physical, and we had to match that and stay in control.”

Sara Lamb’s 3-pointer early in the fourth made it a four-point game, 29-25, but Lewiston answered with a field goal each from Wilson and Blais. After Bradstreet hit from long distance, the Blue Devils clinched things by ending the contest on a 9-3 run, Mt. Ararat’s only points coming on a second Bradstreet trey.

“We have been waiting for this win for a very long time,” said Blais.

Wilson and Talarico joined Blais in double figures with 10 points each, and both had seven rebounds, with Wilson picking up four steals. The Blue Devils were 18 of 54 (33 percent) from the floor and five of 11 from the free-throw line.

Lamb and Guerin led Mt. Ararat with eight points each, with Bradstreet adding seven and Melcher six. Lindsey Cornelison pulled down 11 rebounds, with Bradstreet adding eight caroms, three steals and two assists. The Eagles made three of eight from the line and shot 22 percent (12 of 54) from the floor.

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