Updated: Mar 20, 2022
Good Morning! With the Border Country Sports Blog, I'm Keith Harrington.
Tanagers Dream Season Ends in State Semis
That would be just my luck! The Hartford girls basketball team, which I coached during two different stints in the late 80s and early 90s finally make it to the state final four for the first time in school history, and I am in South Carolina. However, the Tanagers first shot at a state championship was never far from my mind. While watching the Duke Blue Devils take down Cal State Fullerton I was keeping one eye on my phone and the progress of the Hartford game.
"One team, one dream" was the motto of coach Jason Johnson's team this season. And despite an outstanding season, unfortunately, the dream ended just a little early as Hartford dropped a 51-40 decision to Copenhagen in the Class D state semifinals at Hudson Valley Community College on Friday.
Copenhagen came in ranked #1 in the state, and they showed why early on. The Golden Knights came out of the gate quickly, taking a 17-8 first quarter lead.
Hartford got their footing in the second quarter. The Tanagers outscored Copenhagen 13-8 in the stanza to pull within 25-21 at the half and carry momentum into the locker room.
The Tanagers seemed to be right on schedule, using the formula that brought them success in the sectional championship game and regional final. Start slow. Rally late in the half. Then pull away in the third. The plan worked well against Spa Catholic and Boquet Valley, but the Golden Knights were having none of it.
Copenhagen opened the second half on a 7-1 run to extend their lead to double-figures at 32-22. The Tanagers never were within single digits again. The Golden Knights used a 16-10 advantage in the third to open up a 41-31 lead heading to the fourth.
Copenhagen went on a 6-1 spurt to begin the final frame to open up their biggest lead at 47-32 with five minutes remaining and held off the Tanagers the rest of the way.
Charli Carroll led the Golden Knights with 15 points and 20 rebounds. Alyssa Fitzpatrick added 13 and Aubree Smykla 12.
Karlee Nims paced Hartford with 15 points and 13 boards. Izzy French added 11 points and Alawnah Dunda nine.
Hartford's Cassandra Wade was named the winner of the NYSPHAA Sportsmanship award.
The Tanagers close out the most successful season in program history with two 1,000 point scorers in Nims and Gabby McFarren, the Adirondack League Division II championship and league runners-up, Section II Class D champions, state regional champions and state runner-up.
"It's a wonderful group of girls and I wouldn't have wanted to do this with any other group," Nims said after the game.
Hartford ends the season with a record of 20-5.
"Like I told them just now, wipe the tears away and be proud of where you were were. It's an accomplishment. You did well," Johnson said.
Congratulations Coach Johnson and the Tanagers. It was a great journey. Thanks for taking me and the rest of the Hartford community along with you.
With the Border Country Sports Blog, I'm Keith Harrington.