Getting a test from a determined Johnstown team is just what the Lady Rams needed to kick start the second half of their season. Both teams struggled getting their shots to fall through the net, and something had to give. It finally did, with two minutes left in the game Giuliana Pritchard made shots when they counted, scoring six points from the floor and the free throw line to help the Amsterdam Lady Rams varsity basketball team pull away from the Johnstown Lady Bills 50-38 Monday night at Johnstown high school.
“You can’t miss shots or free throws and expect to win,” Johnstown coach Tim Derwin said. “Rebounding off second and third shot attempts hurt us.”
A basket by Johnstown’s Lexus Williams had cut the Amsterdam lead to 43-38, but on the Lady Rams next trip down the floor, Pritchard was in the right place at the right time and gathered in a miss under the rim and then banked it off the backboard and in to boost the lead. Pritchard then converted the free throw to put AHS up 46-38 with less than two minutes to play. Moments later, Pritchard boxed out on a free throw miss at the back end of a one and one by her teammate Lucia Liverio and put back two more to pad the lead at 49-38. A free throw by Nina Fedullo completed the scoring as AHS closed out the contest on a 70 run. Pritchard’s good fundamental skills countered Johnstown’s momentum.
“Giuliana’s a tough kid and she made some shots down the stretch,” Amsterdam head coach Eric Duemler said. “When her confidence is high she’s tough to defend. She always gives one hundred percent.”
Pritchard finished the night with twelve points, seven rebounds, four blocks and two steals and did most of that playing with four fouls. During a game where making shots came at a premium, the defenses of both teams took center stage. Amsterdam set the tone late in the first half with three straight steals that turned into points.
“When we have high energy and we’re working together as a team we create turnovers,” Coach Duemler said. “And that leads to baskets in transition.”
A pair of free throws by Pritchard had put Amsterdam up 18-9 late in the second quarter when Amsterdam’s transition game kicked it into gear. Brady Santiago intercepted a pass at mid court and drove to the basket boosting Amsterdam’s lead to 20-9. Pritchard got the next steal leading to a pair of free throws by Autumn Duemler, and that was followed by hustle from Grace Catena and a third steal that led to basket by Fedullo and a 24-9 Lady Rams lead. Claire Guzielek made a last second shot at the end of the half to make it 24-11 but the damage had been done.
“Three straight turnovers turned into six straight points for them at the half and that made a difference,” Coach Derwin said. “We kept within six points of them, but at some point you have to make shots.”
Johnstown scored the first four points of the third quarter on a make from Mallory Baldwin and a pair of foul shots from Williams to cut into the Amsterdam lead. Pritcard, Duemler and Fedullo took AHS on a 7-2 run to go up 31-17, before sophomore Jess VanNosrand entered the game for the Lady Bills. VanNostrand supplied just the thing the Jonstown game was missing: she made shots.
VanNostrand scored four points from the free throw stripe and contributed a pair of steals leading Johnstown on a 5-0 run to close the gap to 31-22, before a put back by Fedullo and the first and only three point shot of the game for AHS by Brady Santiago got the points back. VanNostrand wasn’t finished and ended the period with a basket as Johnstown outscored Amsterdam 13-12 in the third period with Amsterdam up by a dozen 36-24. The transfer sharpshooter from Northville made her presence felt in the second half and led the Lady Bills with ten points.
“She’s done a nice job for us,” Coach Derwin said. “She’s a presence out there as a point guard and she’s a shooter.”
VanNostrand answered a basket by Fedullo with a three point shot in the opening minute of the final period to keep Johnstown within striking distance. That basket ignited a 12-4 spurt by the Lady Bills that included baskets by Williams, Guzielek, Kalia Fisher, and VanNostrand, whose last points of the game closed the gap to six points before Pritchard’s game clinching efforts.
“You can’t let a team back in a game,” Coach Duemler said. “They came out in the second half and scored four points right away. We were kind of lethargic in the second half. We had a lot of put backs and we needed that.”
VanNostrand’s ability to knock down shots combined with a scrappy Johnstown defense kept it a close game late. The outcome was a win for the Lady Rams, but the effort by the Lady Bills was a significant difference from the 55-33 win by the Lady Rams at Amsterdam a month ago.
I was happy with the way we played defensively,” Coach Derwin said. “Our intensity on defense helped push the pace.”
Nina Fedullo led Amsterdam with 13 points and 12 rebounds to record her fifth “double-double” of the season. Brady Santiago matched Pritchard’s total with 12 points and gathered in three rebounds. Autumn Duemler was next with eight points and seven rebounds, Lucia Liverio added three points and three assists, Grace Catena chipped in with two points, Maria Lomanto and Gabriella Catena each added a rebound in the Lady Rams win.
Lexus Williams followed VanNostrand’s effort with nine points for the Lady Bills. Claire Guzielek added six points, Mallory Baldwin was next with five points, Alex Van Aernam chipped in with four points, Kalia Fisher had two points, and Chelsea Cirillo added two points and had a team high 10 rebounds in the Lady Bills effort. Johnstown out-rebounded Amsterdam 34-32.
The win keeps Amsterdam (5-1 Foothills, 6-3 overall) undefeated and in first place in the Foothills Council South division. The Lady Rams return to action on Thursday when they travel to Queensbury for a 7pm game. Amsterdam will face division rival Scotia-Glenville on the road next Monday before returning home on Thursday, January 14th against Schuylerville.
(Photos by Scott Mulford)