We have all heard of "The Shot Heard Around the World" from the Revolutionary War. Saturday afternoon Gabbie McFarren connected on what may go down in Hartford folklore as "The Shot Heard Around Hartford." The top-seeded Tanagers were in a see-saw battle with #3 Spa Catholic for most of the first half, but a deep 3-pointer by McFarren triggered a third quarter explosion.
Hartford opened the second half on a 9-2 run, opened an 18-point lead, and held off a late Spa Catholic rally for a 73-63 win to claim the Section II Class D title at Hudson Valley Community College.
It was the first sectional crown for Hartford since they won championships in 2004 and 2005. The Tanagers fell in the 2018 final.
"We've been fighting for the last four or five year to win a title with this group," Hartford coach Jason Johnson said.
"It's amazing. Our whole team was pumped for this, we all had the right energy," McFarren added.
The Tanagers seemed sluggish and nervous early on. The Saints fashioned a 12-5 lead. Hartford used a 6-0 spurt to pull within 12-11. A 3-pointer from Mckenzie Johnson gave Hartford an 18-16 lead, but Saratoga Catholic answered with their own long ball to lead 19-18 after a quarter.
The second quarter was tight throughout with the Saints typically clinging to a narrow lead. Spa Catholic led 32-31 when McFarren who was named the Class D Tournament MVP hit the trey that flipped the script.
"Our intensity just went further up," standout post player Karee Nims stated about McFarren's shot.
Izzy French, who saved perhaps the best game of her career for the biggest stage, hit a 3-pointer to give the Tanagers a 43-34 advantage to force a Spa Catholic timeout early in the third. After play resumed Harford extended the run to 20-4. French connected on another trey as time wound down to make it 61-43 after the third. French scored six points in the first quarter when her team was still trying to find their footing in HVCC Gym.
Saratoga Catholic wasn't done yet. The Saints put together a run of their own. Ashley Upson hit a pair of deep treys, one from the left baseline and another from the right as the Saints pulled to within 69-63 with 1:33 to play. It was the last points the Saints scored as McFarren scored on a putback and made two foul shots to calm the storm.
McFarren led Hartford with 22 points and six assists. French followed with 18 points and eight rebounds. Alawnah Dunda had 13 points and 14 boards and held down the paint after Nims fouled out late in the contest. Nims finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.
Upson paced Spa Catholic with 25 points. Allison Mottler chipped in 19.
McFarren was joined on the All Tournament Team by Nims, Upson, Motler, North Warren's Nicole Buckman and Hailey Monroe of Northville.
Hartford is now 19-4 and will play Section VII champion Boquet Valley next Saturday at noon at Clinton Community College in the state regionals. A win would put the Tanagers back at Hudson Valley for the State Final Four.
Spa Catholic ends the season 8-15.