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Hartford Press Box

Boys Basketball ends stretch strong despite 1-2 weekly record

Last week, the Hartford Husky boys basketball team returned to the court for another busy stretch of regular season action, as the team played three contests over the course of just five days. The men started the season having won five of their first six games but came into play having dropped their most recent contest to Bangor. The team hasn’t been playing at their best level as of late; but, it should be remembered that the season is a marathon, and not a sprint.

In their first game of the week, a home non-conference contest against the Watervliet Panthers on Monday, Jan. 23, the Huskies came out of the gate slow, only scoring nine points in the opening half against a very-polished Panther squad. The end result saw the men wearing green and white suffer their second largest defeat of the season, 57-19.

Watervliet won the scoreboard battle in three of the four quarters in this one; the Panthers led, 26-3, after the opening eight minutes, and extended their lead to 42-9 at the half. Watervliet added to their lead in the third quarter, outscoring Hartford 11-5 in the stanza, before the Huskies finished the game with the 5-4 scoring advantage in a running-clock fourth quarter, to bring us to the game’s final margin.

Four players scored for the Huskies. Brody Johnson and Zach Truelove led all Hartford scorers with six points apiece, while Caiden Smith chipped in five points and Austin Reyna finished with two points in the loss.

In their second game of the week, a home non-conference contest against the Saugatuck Trailblazers on Tuesday, Jan. 24, the Huskies once again experienced a period of hardship. A combination of missed shots and a plethora of turnovers led to another low-scoring game for Hartford, as they suffered their third straight loss, 46-30.

Five players scored for the Huskies, including one that finished the night in double figures. Brody Johnson led all Hartford scorers with 13 points, while Austin Reyna chipped in six points in the loss. Other players finishing in the scoring column included Julien Rodarte (4 points), Zach Truelove (4 points) and Dylan Kuehnle (3 points).

In their third game of the week, a home conference contest against the Lawrence Tigers on Friday, Jan. 27, the Huskies played one solid half of basketball, racing out to an eighteen point lead at the half, only to see the game get close in the later stages. The team made just enough baskets in the closing minutes to earn a much-needed victory, 59-51. As we mentioned, Hartford dominated the opening half. They led, 15-6, after the opening eight minutes of play, and then extended the lead to 34-16 by the time the game reached the half. But the visiting Tigers tilted the game heavily in their favor in the third quarter, using a 17-6 scoring advantage, to close to within seven points with one quarter remaining. The final stanza was a scoring juggernaut, as the teams combined for 37 points; the Huskies won that battle, 19-18, to close out the scoring.

Six players scored for the Huskies, including two that finished the night in double figures. Brody Johnson led all Hartford scorers with 25 points, while Caiden Smith added 11 points in the win. Other players finishing in the scoring column included Austin Reyna (9 points), Zach Truelove (6 points), Dylan Kuehnle (4 points) and Julien Rodarte (4 points).

Hartford is currently 6-4 on the season and is 5-2 in Southwest 10 Conference play. The men will take the court for two road games in the coming week, both of which will count towards the conference standings. The team will have started the week by traveling to Decatur on Tuesday, Jan. 31 for a matchup against the Raiders, before taking a trip north, up the rural county roads, to Bangor on Thursday, Feb. 2 for a showdown against the Vikings.


Hartford girls basketball showing promise, finishes week with 1-1 record

The Hartford Lady Husky basketball team returned to the court last week for another week full of action. The team played in a pair of home games during the seven-day stretch. This group may not possess the best record on paper, as they entered play with a 3-7 record on the season. But, if you’ve seen the ladies play, you will know that the team is full of young players with limited varsity experience. After all, all but two players from last year’s squad graduated in the spring.

In their first game of the week, a home non-conference contest against the Lady Panthers of Watervliet on Monday, Jan. 23, the Lady Huskies went up against a tough Lady Panthers team that beat them by 49 points earlier in the year. The result of this game was also not in Hartford’s favor, but the team played a much better game this time out, falling in the end, 52-29. Watervliet was in control for the first three quarters, with the Lady Panthers leading 12-6 after the opening eight minutes of play, before extending their lead to 31-11 at the half. Watervliet continued their dominance by blanking Hartford in the third quarter by a 9-0 margin, to run the lead to 40-11 with eight minutes left. Give the Lady Huskies a lot of credit: they did not ever once give up, and it showed in the fourth quarter when they outscored the Lady Panthers, 18-12.

Five players scored for the Lady Huskies, including one that finished the night in double figures. Brooke Birmele led all Hartford scorers with 10 points, while Abby Valdes chipped in nine points in the loss. Other players finishing in the scoring column included Ava Bachman (5 points), Raven Ledesma (3 points), and Rylee Deckard (2 points).

Before we get into details of the second game held this week, the Lady Huskies were scheduled to host the Lady Bulldogs of Centreville on Wednesday, Jan. 25. The game was postponed for the second time, due to inclement weather (Centreville cancelled classes due to snow); the first time was in December, due to illness. The game has not been rescheduled as of press time.

Now for their second game of the week, a home conference contest against the Lady Tigers of Lawrence on Friday, Jan. 27, the Lady Huskies and Lady Tigers played an absolute thriller that had the large crowd assembled on the edge of their seats all night long. After 32 minutes of riveting action, Hartford squeaked out with the one-point victory, 51-50.

The game was close all night, as the final box score would confirm. The two teams were deadlocked at eight after the opening eight minutes, before the Lady Huskies took a slim, two-point lead at the half, 20-18. The visiting Lady Tigers managed to tie the game at 35-all going into the final eight minutes and led by three in the closing minute. However, Hartford used a three-point shot (off glass), a late free throw and a solid late defensive possession, to close the game out.

No individual scoring statistics were made available as of press time, but to win a game that hotly contested means that every player played a pivotal role in the victory.

Hartford is currently 4-8 on the season and is 4-4 in Southwest 10 Conference play. The Lady Huskies will take the court twice in the coming week, with both games counting towards the conference standings. The team will have started the week by hosting the Lady Raiders of Decatur on Tuesday, Jan. 31, before ending the stretch by traveling to Bangor to take on the Lady Vikings, on Friday, Feb. 3.


Wrestling takes home conference dual, tournament victories

The Hartford Husky wrestling team competed in their fourth conference team dual meet of the season last week, while also participating in a weekend individual tournament. The wrestlers continue to be one of the more active teams during the winter thus far and are accomplishing many great feats. Coming into the week, they were right in the hunt for the conference crown and have goals lying in front of them.

In their previously mentioned conference meet, which was held at Comstock on Wednesday, Jan. 25, the Huskies had team duals against the Cassopolis Rangers and the Decatur Raiders. Hartford went 2-0 on the evening; first, upsetting Decatur in a one-point match, 39-38, before finishing the night by taking down Cassopolis, 54-18.

Hartford wrestlers that won matches against Decatur included Noe Arreola-Santos (106 pounds), Rodrigo Morales (113 pounds), Ernesto Rodarte (120 pounds), Roman Rodarte (126 pounds), Alex Saldana (132 pounds), Braeden Birkhead (150 pounds) and Linken Birkhead (175 pounds).

Hartford wrestlers that won matches against Cassopolis included Ernesto Rodarte (113 pounds), Roman Rodarte (120 pounds), Alex Saldana (126 pounds), Ian Parker (132 pounds), Braeden Birkhead (150 pounds), Mason Garner (157 pounds), Angel Sanchez-Martinez (190 pounds), Govani Gonzalez-Perez (215 pounds) and Josh Dyson (285 pounds).

In their previously mentioned weekend tournament, the Fennville Blackhawk High School Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 28, the Huskies competed in an individual tournament, which included six other teams. In the seven-team field, Hartford finished on top of the heap winning with 195 team points, which was 85-1/2 points better than the runner-up, Saranac.

Wrestlers finishing on the podium included champions Ernesto Rodarte (113 pounds), Roman Rodarte (120 pounds), Alex Saldana (126 pounds), Armando Garcia (132 pounds), Braeden Birkhead (144 pounds), Linken Birkhead (175 pounds) and Govani Gonzalez-Perez (215 pounds). Runner-up finishes were achieved by Rodrigo Morales (113 pounds) and Adrian Flores (165 pounds), while Noe Arreola-Santos (106 pounds), Anya Watkins (113 pounds), Robert Lenza (120 pounds) and Angel Rocha (138 pounds) walked away with third-place finishes.

Hartford is currently 15-9 on the team dual meet season and is 8-0 in Southwest 10 Conference matches. The wrestlers will appear on the mat twice in the coming week, competing in their final conference meet and in the conference tournament. The team traveled to White Pigeon on Wednesday, Feb. 1 for the conference meet, in which they will wrestle the host Chiefs (both Hartford and White Pigeon are unbeaten in the league) and Centreville, before traveling to Bangor on Saturday, Feb. 4, for the Southwest 10 Conference individual tournament.


Multiple Hartford student-athletes awarded with All-State honors, plaques

At a recent home varsity boys basketball game, held on Thursday, Jan. 19, the Hartford Athletic Department honored four student-athletes that achieved both academic and athletic all-state honors. Those honors spanned multiple sports, including last year’s basketball and track and field teams, in addition to the soccer team from this fall. It took plenty of good planning and scheduling to make it work, but all four were in attendance to receive their ‘moment in the sun’.


HARTFORD ALL-STATE HONORS… Hartford student-athletes honored for All-State Academic & Athletic performances. Pictured (from the left): Andres Cardoso, Caiden Smith, Kaden Johnson and Brody Johnson. See Hartford Press Box for individual awards. (Contributed photo)

Receiving first team all-state for basketball during the 2021-22 season was Kaden Johnson, who graduated from Hartford last spring. He had an outstanding high school athletic career for the Huskies, which in addition to basketball, also included playing on the soccer and baseball teams. Last February, he committed to play college basketball at Goshen College, and has been a major contributor for the Maple Leafs. He has appeared in 21 games (including 20 starts) and is averaging 10 points and nearly eight rebounds per game. He’s also been chosen as the Everence Student-Athlete of the Week twice.

Receiving academic all-state and first team all-state for track and field during the 2022 season, in addition to first team all-state in soccer for 2022, was junior Caiden Smith. In terms of academic all-state, his 3.7 grade point average qualified him to earn that recognition. In track and field, he qualified for three events in the state meet, placing fifth overall in the 200-meter dash. He was also conference champion in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and the long jump, while also taking top honors in the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash at the regional competition. In soccer, he has been a starter all three years, in addition to serving as a team captain. This season he scored 26 goals and assisted on 17 other tallies. He’s also been selected first team all-conference all three years, in addition to a consortium of postseason honors.

Receiving first team all-state for soccer during the 2022 season was sophomore Brody Johnson. He was the starting goalkeeper for the Huskies this season and ended regional play with a total of 70 saves and eight shutouts. He’s currently a member of the boys basketball team and will also play baseball this spring. His goal is to be the best that he can be in all three sports he competes in.

Receiving academic all-state for soccer during the 2022 season was senior Andres Cardoso. He was a four-year varsity soccer player, who also participated in track and field, as well as baseball. He’s a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council and Science Olympiad, who carries a 4.03 grade point average. Upon graduation, he plans on attending the University of Michigan to pursue a degree in computer engineering. (From this writer, GO BLUE!)

Congratulations to all four of these great Hartford student-athletes on their achievements throughout the last year!

As always, GO GREEN! GO WHITE!

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