Hartford holds off Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville, 71-60

STILLWATER – As the game progressed, the confidence of the Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville players grew.

The Wolfpack outscored third-seeded Hartford 44-39 in the second half but could not dig themselves out of a 16-point halftime hole as the Tanagers defeated OESJ 71-60 in a Section II Class D quarterfinal game Saturday at Stillwater High School.

Hartford advances to play Germantown in a Class D semifinal game at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Glens Falls Civic Center. The Clippers advanced with a 69-53 win over Salem.

Hartford put together a 12-1 run in the opening four minutes of Saturday’s quarterfinal matchup.

Johnny Vicciarelli broke the string, netting the Wolfpack’s field goal with a strong drive to the hoop with 3:21 left in the opening period.

The OESJ press resulted in two baskets, a 3-pointer and a layup by Dylan Klock, in a span of 10 seconds late in the period to put the score at 14-8 at the end of the opening period.

The Tanagers again opened the period with a strong run, putting up five points from the low post-duo of Tad Jones and Ethan Tyler.

When OESJ dropped inside, the Tanagers stepped back, hitting three 3-pointers to help build a 32-16 halftime advantage.

OESJ found its scoring rhythm in the third period, connecting for five 3-pointers.

The Wolfpack cut the lead to nine with less than a minute to play in the third period, when A.J. Hayes was fouled while scoring a lay in. Hayes missed the ensuing free throw but Andrew Hart grabbed the rebound, tossed a pass to Klock at the top of the key and he drained a 3-pointer to trim the lead to 50-41.

Hayes added another basket to take the Tanagers’ lead down to seven before Nick Cassella closed the period with a three-point play to give Hartford a 53-43 lead heading into the final period.

The Wolfpack connected for six baskets in the final stanza, including two 3-pointers from Klock, while holding the Tanagers to five field goals. However, the Tanagers connected on 9 of 11 free throws in the final period, while OESJ was 3-for-4 from the line.

The edge was enough to give Hartford the 71-60 quarterfinal victory.

Klock finished the game with 19 points, with 14 of those coming in the second half. Pyten Johnson finished with 13, while Vicciarelli had 10 and Hayes chipped in with 10.

Jones led the Tanagers (13-6 overall) with 21 points, while Cassella hit for 17 and Ethan Tyler had 13.

“We kept Tad Jones [26.9 ppg] to five field goals and only one in the second half,” Oppenheim-Ephratah coach Jason Brundage said. “Brad Smith did a good job on that kid despite giving up about a foot in height. We came out strong in the second half and believed we could win. I just don’t think we believed we could at the start of the game.”

Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville finished the season with a 10-10 overall record.

Hartford 71, Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville 60

Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville8 8 27 17 – 60

Hartford14 18 21 18 – 71

Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville

Klock 6-3-19, Smith 2-0-5, Hart 1-0-2, Johnson 6-1-13, Hayes 5-0-10, Vicciarelli 4-0-11. Totals: 24-4-60.

Hartford

Mullins 3-2-10, D. Farley1-2-4, Jones 5-9-21, Casella 7-1-17, C. Farley 2-2-6, Tyler 6-1-13. Totals: 24-17-71.

3-point goals: Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville 8 (Klock 4, Vicciarelli 3, Smith); Hartford 6 (Mullins 2, Jones 2, Cassela 2).