Hartford girls reach state’s Final Four
By Keith Harrington
The Hartford girls basketball team saw their game postponed for 23 hours by a snowstorm on Saturday, but no problem. Seniors Karlee Nims and Gabbie McFarren spent five years on the varsity waiting for this moment and an entire community waited throughout its history.
The Tanagers trailed early but once they grabbed the lead they never gave it back as Hartford edged Boquet Valley, 57-51, in the New York State Class D Regional Final at Clinton Community College in Plattsburgh on Sunday.
Hartford advances to play Copenhagen in the state semifinals Friday at 8 p.m. at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy. It will be the first time a Tanagers’ basketball team has reached the Final Four.
“It’s crazy to think that this is the first time our school has ever gotten this far,” Nims said. “To be going to states is absolutely insane.”
Hartford seemed nervous in the opening minutes. Boquet Valley, led by star player Abby Schwoebel, raced out to a 7-2 lead and extended it to 12-5, but the Tanagers closed the stanza on a 10-0 run to lead 15-12.
Hartford took command in the second and dominated the next eight minutes, extending the lead to 33-18 at halftime with an 18-6 stretch. Hartford still led 49-35 heading to the fourth.
Then Boquet Valley sprung to life.
The Griffins opened the final frame with a 12-2 run to slice the deficit to 51-47. Schwoebel, who had been locked down by Hartford’s Izzy French for most of the contest, had a four-point play and followed it with a 3-pointer as she scored 11 points in the quarter. Boquet Valley pulled within four on two other occasions at 53-49 and 55-51 but couldn’t get any closer.
“They started to get layups and we kind of put our heads down, but we gathered ourselves and we finished it out,” McFarren said.
Nims converted a pair of free throws with 3.9 seconds remaining to wrap it up for the Tanagers.
“Our second half, we fell apart,” said Hartford coach Jason Johnson. “And luckily we were able to be far enough ahead so we could pull it off.”
The Griffins had no answer for Nims. The senior center finished with a game-high 29 points for Hartford. McFarren added 15 and Alawnah Dunda nine.
Schwobel paced Boquet Valley with 21 points. Emma Lobdell contributed 18.
“I have a great group of girls,” Johnson said. “They really deserve it. They put in the work. I can’t ask for anything more.”
Hartford is now 20-4 on the season.