By Keith Harrington
It was Senior Night for the Hartford boys basketball team at the Ella Colvin Gym on Friday night, but Whitehall rolled into town with their own intentions. After an 0-4 start the Railroaders have won 10 out of 12 and worked their way back into the Adirondack League playoff hunt.
Whitehall took command early then recovered from a second quarter Tanager rally to pull away for a 50-37 victory. It was the fifth win in a row for Keith Redmond’s squad.
“It’s a game of runs. Our goal was to keep it close. We knew they were going to be tough tonight. Senior night. There is always emotion in the game,” Redmond said. “We knew at some point our defense was going to wear them out.”
The Railroader defense did indeed play a key role in the game. Whitehall raced out to a 13-2 lead and led 16-7 after a quarter.
Hartford recovered in the second. The Tanagers flashed a little defense of their own, outscoring the Railroaders 14-5 to draw even at 21-21 at the intermission.
In the second half the aforementioned wearing down by the Whitehall defense began. Hartford took their first lead of the night at 25-23 on a Ray Harrington bucket. The Tanagers wouldn’t lead again.
The Railroaders used a barrage of 3-pointers to regain control. Cash Burgey netted a trio of treys, with Jake Whiting and Landon Steves contributing one each. Whitehall led 39-30 heading to the final frame.
In the fourth the Railroaders ripped off an 11-2 run to begin the quarter and held off the Tanagers the rest of the way.
Redmond gave much of the praise to his team’s defensive effort. Whitehall held Hartford to single digits in three of the four quarters.
“By the end of the third quarter and early fourth they struggled with jump shots. They couldn’t score. Even inside we were able to block shots and go,” Redmond added. “You’ve got to attribute it to the defensive effort tonight. It was solid all the way around. And in the second half we hit a lot of big shots.”
Hartford coach Jason Harrington blamed the defeat on turnovers and spells where the defensive effort was not there from his team.
“We go on these stretches where the defense goes away and we turn the ball over four or five trips. We’ve done it all year long,” Harrington explained.
Harrington also heaped praise on the defense and hustle of the Railroaders.
“They defend well and they play so hard. I have so much respect for what Keith does with his kids,” Harrington said. “When they’re not shooting well they make up for it by just playing hard. They win a lot of games that way.”
Burgey paced Whitehall with 16 points. Latrell Evans added 13 and Jake Whiting 11.
Ray Harrington led the Tanagers with 17 points. Austin Wells chipped in 10.
Whitehall is two games behind division leading Hadley-Luzerne with two games remaining. The Railroaders host the Eagles Wednesday night.
“We would like to win out ourselves, but we’ve got to rely on a little bit of help. That’s okay. If we don’t we’ll get ready for sectionals,” Redmond said.
Whitehall raised their mark to 7-5, 10-6. Hartford drops to 3-8, 3-11.