Hartford beaten in state semi-final play
By Keith Harrington
“One team, one dream” was the motto of coach Jason Johnson’s team this season, and despite an outstanding season, the dream ended just a little early as Hartford dropped a 51-40 decision to the Copenhagen Green Knights in the Class D state semifinals at Hudson Valley Community College on Friday night.
“It’s really exciting that this is my senior year and it’s the first year our school has made it this far to the state finals,” said Copenhagen forward Charli Carroll. “I’m still shaking from when we won. It’s so exciting.”
Copenhagen, in Lewis County, came in ranked number one in the state Class D sportswriters’ poll, and they showed why early on. The Golden Knights came out of the gate quickly, taking a 17-8 first-quarter lead.
Hartford found its confidence in the second quarter, outscoring Copenhagen 13-8 to pull within 25-21 at the half and carry momentum into the locker room.
The Tanagers seemed to have Copenhagen right where they wanted them, 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 its lead to double-figures at 32-22 and the Tanagers never were within single digits again. The Golden Knights used a 16-10 advantage in the third to lead 41-31 heading to the fourth.
Copenhagen began with a 6-1 spurt in the final frame to open take its biggest lead at 47-32 with five minutes remaining and held off the Tanagers the rest of the way.
One of the keys to the win for the Golden Knights was the defensive job they did on Hartford star post player Karlee Nims.
“We wanted to take away their post play, particularly Nims and get on her left hand,” Copenhagen coach Natalie Scott said. “I think we did that adequately. We wanted to win the rebounding. And more than that we wanted to pressure their guards and we wanted to be patient on offense. And I think we did those things very well.”
Carroll led the Golden Knights with 15 points and 20 rebounds. Alyssa Fitzpatrick added 13 and Aubree Smykla 12.
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 closed 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. It’s an accomplishment. You did well,” Johnson said.
Copenhagen went on to defeat Sherman in the state final Saturday to claim it first ever state crown.